Andy Murray pulls out of first tournament of new season due to coronavirus concerns

Former world No 1 decides against playing the Delray Beach Open in Florida to minimise risk ahead of Australian Open

File photo dated 06-07-2019 of Andy Murray. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday December 31, 2020. Andy Murray has pulled out of what was due to be his first tournament of the season in Florida next week, the PA news agency understands. See PA story TENNIS Murray. Photo credit should read Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Andy Murray has pulled out of what was due to be his first tournament of the season in Florida next week because of coronavirus concerns.

The former world No 1 accepted a wild card into the Delray Beach Open and had been due to play his first match next Friday but has decided the trip is too risky.

Players will have to pass a series of Covid tests during a 14-day quarantine in Melbourne before the Australian Open that starts in February.

"After much deliberation with my team I've decided not to travel to play in Delray Beach," said Murray

"Given the increase in Covid rates and the transatlantic flights involved, I want to minimise the risks ahead of the Australian Open.

"I'm really thankful for the understanding of the tournament and I look forward to playing there soon."

The 33-year-old has been given a wild card for the Australian Open and will travel Down Under in mid-January before a period of quarantine prior to the start of the first Grand Slam of 2021 on February 8.

Australia has strict protocols regarding entry to the country and travelling to the United States first, where coronavirus cases remain high, could potentially jeopardise his plans.

Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion, has slipped to 122nd in the world after an injury-ravaged three years.

British No 1 Dan Evans has also pulled out of Delray Beach and the pair will continue to prepare in London ahead of the new season.

He looked sharp in December's Battle of the Brits exhibition event, beating both Evans and No 3 Cameron Norrie in straight sets.