ROME: Former world number one Andy Murray will get his 2021 season underway in the shadow of the Italian Alps next week, 16,000km away from the showpiece Australian Open.
The three-time major winner has been awarded a wild card into a second-tier Challenger event at Biella in northern Italy.
The entire indoor tournament carries a modest purse of just under 45,000 euros ($54,000) compared to the $2.1 million on offer to the winner of the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne which also gets underway on Monday.
“@andy_murray! The former World No. 1 will kick off his 2021 campaign next week at the Biella Challenger Indoor. Into the main draw after receiving a wild card,” tweeted the Biella organisers on Friday.
Murray, now ranked 124 after battling a pelvic injury which had compromised his attempts to rebuild his career after hip surgery, is a five-time Australian Open finalist.
However, his hopes of returning to Melbourne this year were dashed when he tested positive for coronavirus last month.
Murray, 33, only played seven official matches in 2020 because of his pelvic problem and a five-month suspension of the tour due to the pandemic.