Murray back on Chatrier for first time since 2017

 - Alex Sharp

The British three-time major champion enjoyed a great first practice on Centre Court.

Andy Murray practice, Roland Garros 2020© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

White shorts, white top, you’d think Andy Murray was ready to grace the luscious lawns of Wimbledon.

Well, not quite.

The 2016 finalist made his long-awaited return to Roland-Garros by taking in the renovated look of Court Philippe-Chatrier for a two-hour practice on Monday. 

The three-time Grand Slam champion last wielded his racket on the terre battue in 2017, a pulsating five-set semi-final defeat at the hands of Stan Wawrinka

At that point the Scot was hampered by a persistent right hip injury. Avid tennis fans know the rest; the painful surgeries, gruelling rehab, the retirement concerns, the comebacks. It’s been turbulent to say the least. 

"Been a long journey to get back on Court Philipe-Chatrier. Three and a half years since I played Stan Wawrinka in a brutal five-set semi-final which turned out to be the end of my hip," Murray wrote in a post on his Instagram after his Monday practice.

"It was a pleasure to be back at Roland-Garros and a huge thank you to the FFT for giving me the opportunity to play here again.

"The new stadium with the roof looks amazing and all the changes and improvements they have made for the players is much appreciated."

French player Jules Marie was the hitting partner over the net on Monday evening as the sun set over the chic new roof assembled over Court Philippe-Chatrier.  

Murray, awarded a main draw wildcard for Roland-Garros 2020, spun in a 360 as he entered the court to take in the fresh, slick look to the surroundings.  

“I like it, it used to be very windy in here, it feels much less,” Murray said to Marie, who had re-gripped his racquet twice to make sure his preparation was perfect to spar with the former world No.1.

The duo clattered a series of groundstrokes, working down-the-lines, cross-court and progressing towards the net all in an hour’s work. 

At one change of ends Murray called over to the groundstaff; “The court is very, very good,” declared the 33-year-old. 

Any errant volleys were met with derision, Murray ever the perfectionist, as he cut acute-angled winners with deft touches to showcase his full repertoire at the net.  

The returns and serves came firing, echoing around the empty stands. 

Let’s hope Murray can replicate his New York heroics. The current world No.110 reeled in a two-set deficit to overhaul Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round at the US Open earlier this month. 

Murray is still hungry for Grand Slam success and the tennis world would relish a deep run into the draw at Roland-Garros 2020.