Murray Kicks Off 2021 Campaign At Biella Challenger
Former World No. 1 leads the field on indoor hard courts of Biella, Italy
In Biella, they have never had it so good. The ATP Challenger Tour has descended on the Italian mountain town since 1998, but this is the first time that a former World No. 1 will make an appearance.
Andy Murray is set to make his 2021 debut next week at the Biella Challenger Indoor 1, kicking off his season in the scenic surroundings of northern Italy. The 33-year-old arrives at the Palasport Biella having not stepped on a match court since October, when he competed on the ATP Tour in Cologne. It may be a different setting, but Murray says he is ready for the challenge.
"Physically I feel pretty good," Murray told Sky Sports Italia. "I'm very grateful they gave me the opportunity to play in this tournament and compete. The reason I came here was to play matches. I believe I still have some really good tennis in me. I know I can compete at the highest level and hopefully I can show that this week."
Welcome to Biella 🇮🇹, @andy_murray!— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) February 5, 2021
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. pic.twitter.com/kQtelsCsQy
Murray, who is seeded first in Biella, faces a tough opening test against Maximilian Marterer of Germany. Marterer, a former World No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, is just three months removed from lifting the trophy on the indoor hard courts of the Bratislava Challenger. It marked his first title since returning from a lengthy layoff due to a knee injury.
It will be the first meeting between Murray and Marterer. Sitting at No. 124 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, the Scot is continuing his push towards a Top 100 return in 2021 and will be seeking matches and confidence to open the new year in Biella.
A potential second-round meeting against Russia's Evgeny Karlovskiy or Italy's Gian Marco Moroni awaits, with Mohamed Safwat, Blaz Rola and last week's Quimper finalist Filip Horansky the other seeds in the top half of the draw. In the bottom half, Italians Federico Gaio and Lorenzo Giustino are the leading men.
For Murray, this will be his second appearance on the ATP Challenger Tour in three years. In 2019, he reached the quarter-finals in Mallorca, Spain, in the early stages of his comeback from hip surgery. This time, as he builds his match rhythm to start the season, the Scot is slated to compete in Biella I and Biella II, before returning to the ATP Tour.
The 28-year-old Palasport Biella will host four Challenger tournaments in the coming months, with a 125-level event slated for the week of 15 February. Located in the Italian Alps, the Piedmont region is also the new home of the Nitto ATP Finals in 2021, in nearby Turin.