Murray accepts Delray Beach Open wildcard to begin 2021 season

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FILE PHOTO: Tennis - China Open - Men's Singles - Quarterfinals

(Reuters) - Andy Murray will begin his 2021 season at the Delray Beach Open next month after accepting a wildcard for the ATP 250 tournament, the men's tour said on Saturday.

The former world number one, whose has slipped to 122nd in the rankings, will join defending champion Reilly Opelka, top-ranked American John Isner and Canada's Milos Raonic in the Florida field.

The tournament takes place from Jan. 7-13, after being moved from its traditional February slot, and will serve as part of the preparations for the Australian Open Grand Slam, which will begin three weeks later than scheduled on Feb. 8 due to COVID-19 health and safety measures.

Murray, a three-times Grand Slam champion, underwent hip resurfacing surgery in January last year but returned to win the Antwerp title seven months later -- his first since 2017.

The 33-year-old Briton missed most of the 2020 season due to complications with his hip and struggled for form on his return after the COVID-19 hiatus, suffering a second-round defeat in the U.S. Open before falling in the opening round at Roland Garros.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)