Since making his tour-level debut in April 2005, Andy Murray has traveled to compete in a variety of venues around the world. There aren’t many tournaments, especially on hard courts, left for Murray to check off his list.
On Friday, Christmas Day no less, the ATP announced on social media that the former world No. 1 will launch his 2021 season by making his debut at the Delray Beach Open.
Murray's wild card acceptance is an energizing boost for tournament organizers, who opted to move up the ATP 250 event from its standard slot in February when it became clear the Australian Open would need to shift back three weeks. Two thousand tickets are available per session (just under 25% of capacity), marking the first U.S. event on either the ATP or WTA Tours to open gates in the COVID-19 era.
A three-time major winner, Murray has endured two seasons testing his patience and determination. After having his right hip resurfaced in early 2019, he resumed with a doubles-only comeback at Queen's Club. Once he added singles back into his program, the Scot gained momentum to win the ATP 250 event at Antwerp, only to suffer a pelvic issue at the Davis Cup Finals that prolonged into the tour’s shutdown.
When he returned in August 2020 at Flushing Meadows, he upset Alexander Zverev in the Western & Southern Open second round and rallied from two sets down to top Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round of the US Open. But after that, he was blitzed by Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros and shut his season down following a straight-set defeat to Fernando Verdasco at Cologne 1, once again citing a pelvic injury.
“I've been trying to deal with it in training, and in the matches, and unfortunately after my match here this week it's flared up again,” Murray said in a Facebook video. “I will see you on the court soon.”
Earlier this week, Murray showed signs of promise at the Battle of the Brits Premier League. The 33-year-old first edged British No. 1 Dan Evans, 7-6 (5), 6-4, before defeating Cam Norrie, 6-4, 7-6 (5), two days later. His training shirt appropriately donned one word: perseverance.
“I haven’t forgotten how to play tennis. I know I will perform and win big matches if I can get properly fit and healthy for an extended period of time,” Murray said in late November. “I’ve been doing tons of work in the gym, trying to build towards beating all of my personal bests, which has been quite exciting for me. I’m really motivated.”
In Delray Beach, Murray is expected to open his campaign in the night session on Friday, January 8, according to the tournament’s website. He joins defending champion Reilly Opelka, world No. 14 Milos Raonic, Chile’s Cristian Garin, top-ranked American John Isner and 2008 winner Kei Nishikori in the field.