Andy Murray arrives in Italy as he prepares to start his 2021 campaign next week

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Andy Murray

Former world No 1 Andy Murray will start his 2021 season in less than glamorous surrounds next week after he accepted a wildcard into the ATP Challenger in Biella, Italy.

Murray, 33, is able to play after quarantine waiver has been agreed for players travelling from outside the European Union.

Murray has entered the tournament that starts on February 15th, but with places in the main draw for next week’s tournament already assigned, he will have to go through qualifying to secure his place in the main draw.

The prospect of a two-time Wimbledon champion playing a qualifier to claim his place in the draw for a second tier ATP tournament highlights his eagerness to kick-start his season after his hopes of playing at the Australian Open were ended by his positive Covid-19 test last month.

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Murray’s eagerness to get matches under his belt encouraged him to enter the indoor event in Italy, with his presence a huge boost to tournament organisers.

Meanwhile, Murray’s elder brother Jamie is enjoying a fine start to his season after reuniting with doubles partner Bruno Soares after the pair beat Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek to reach the Great Ocean Road Open final.

Jamie is clearly enjoying his experience in Australia, where Covid-19 restrictions are limited after a period of quarantine.

“These three weeks will probably be the best weeks we have on the tour for a while, so we’re all ready to get stuck in,” Murray told the BBC.

“Once we had completed our 14-day quarantine period it was weird getting out and going into this Covid-free world in Melbourne.

“It just shows how your behaviours change depending on your set of conditions.

“For the past year in Britain, we have had to wear masks all the time and not socialise with anyone other than our household.

“On the streets back home, everyone has their head down and you body-swerve and scuttle past people. Here, you can do pretty much what you want.

“When the ATP Tour resumed in August last year we weren’t allowed out anywhere at events. It was just yourself and your team on the courts or in the hotel. So to be able to go out and feel there is an atmosphere again is really nice.

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“You’re able to mix with who you want here in Melbourne and you don’t have to stay in your bubble. So I’ve been out with my friends that live here and the British guys are all planning to go out for a dinner before the Australian Open starts.

“Seeing other people is a great feeling. Hopefully the restrictions back home will be able to be eased sooner rather than later so you can enjoy more freedom again too.”

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