Andy Murray prepares for the Monte Carlo Masters by playing against Everton duo Louis Saha and Sylvain Distin

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Andy Murray is targeting a return to competitive action at the Monte Carlo Masters next week, and to prepare for the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament the world number one has played a practice match against two former Everton players.

French footballers Louis Saha and Sylvain Distin have both been present in Monaco this week and were treated to a knock-up with Murray and former player Jamie Delgado, ahead of the impending clay court swing.

And it would appear Murray and Delgado were impressed with the Everton duo’s tennis ability, with Delgado tweeting after the match: “New tennis opponents today! Louis Saha and Sylvain Distin, great guys and pretty decent at tennis too!”

Saha, who played with Distin at Goodison Park between 2009 and 2012, added on Instagram: “What a day! Playing tennis with friends and against such a nice guy – the world number one, Andy Murray, I was like a kid. Thanks to Jamie Delgado.”

It has been a busy week for Murray, who made his first appearance on court for a month in a charity match against Roger Federer in Zurich on Monday.

The world number one has suffered with shingles and illness since the turn of the year and was forced to withdraw from the Miami Open in the middle of March after injuring his elbow.

Murray and Federer played in an exhibition match on Monday ()

Murray subsequently missed Great Britain’s exit from the Davis Cup against France over the weekend but kept up his promise to play against Federer in ‘The Match for Africa 3’ at the Hallenstadion on Monday night.

The 29-year-old lost 6-3 7-6 (7/5) against in-form Federer yet the result was far from the most important thing for Murray, with the ATP clay court season starting next Monday.

Speaking to Eurosport, Murray said: “Monte Carlo starts in a week, so I’m hoping, if I keep progressing as I have with the elbow, to play Monte Carlo.

“If not then I just need to stay patient and I’ll try the following week. I’m getting there, I just have to go slowly.”

Andy Murray: His journey to the top

Murray was diagnosed with shingles following his shock fourth-round exit from the Australian Open in January but insisted he was fully recovered when he returned to action in Dubai in February.

He won that tournament but then suffered another surprise defeat to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells on March 12 – his last appearance before picking up the elbow knock.

“I enjoyed it,” Murray said after his light-hearted clash against Federer. “I haven’t played a match for five or six weeks so to come out and play in front of this crowd against Roger, I appreciate him asking me to come and do this.

“I was trying to get it to a third set, I just couldn’t quite do it.”

Reigning Australian Open champion Federer is set to take a voluntary sabbatical before the French Open begins at the end of May.

Asked what his plans were over the coming weeks, Federer responded: “Not very much.

“I’ll be resting most of the time. The body needs a rest, I can feel it.

“Everything is good. I should be back for the French Open, that’s the plan.”

(Additional reporting by Press Association)




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