Andy Murray has withdrawn from the Delray Beach Open in Florida next week in a bid to "minimise risks" in advance of the Australian Open.

The former world number one had accepted a wildcard for the season-opening event but will now make his preparations for the first Grand Slam of the season more direct.

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It has been reported that both Murray, and fellow Brit Dan Evans, are wary of the strict Covid-19 restrictions in Florida and have both decided to withdraw out of caution.

Evans, who pulled out before Christmas, has also adjusted his plans to arrive in Australia in mid-January, with the players given a two-day window to land in Australia before beginning their quarantine period.

Murray confirmed on Thursday that he has changed his mind about participating in Delray Beach over concerns that making the trip could jeopardise his primary goal of playing in Melbourne.

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

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."

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Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: "We welcome Andy back to Melbourne with open arms.

"As a five-time finalist, he has been an integral part of so many amazing matches and storylines in the recent history of the Australian Open.

"His retirement was an emotional moment and seeing him come back, having undergone major surgery and built himself back up to get onto the Tour again, will be a highlight of AO 2021.

"We wish him all the best and look forward to seeing him in 2021."

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Murray has already been granted a wildcard for the Australian Open, which he required given his world ranking of 122, so it has already been made clear that playing in Melbourne would be his priority.

The five-time finalist will return to the opening Grand Slam of the year for the first time since January 2019, when he played what he feared may have been his final match as a professional.

He enjoyed some encouragement last week when he overcame his compatriot Evans and British number three Cam Norrie at the latest 'Battle of the Brits' exhibition but he also admitted that his fitness was not sufficient in 2020.

Under Australian Open quarantine rules players must choose one practice partner for the first week and the three-time Grand Slam champion has chosen to be paired with Evans.

Given the risks involved in travelling to Florida at this time, Murray appears to have made the right decision and he can now focus on getting in peak physical condition ahead of his latest attempted comeback in Melbourne.

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