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A file photo of Roger and wife Mirka Federer together. Image Credit: Rex Features

Dubai: The volley challenge bug seems to have caught on among the top men’s tennis players of the world - who are making the best use of this prolonged break due to coronavirus pandemic. If Roger Federer is the one who started it with his #StayatHome series, former world No.1 Andy Murray has taken it a step further by extending it to the tennis couples - and it will be interesting to see if the Swiss ace and his wife Mirka will play ball to the Briton’s request.

‘‘A challenge to all tennis players and fans... The ߒ? volley challenge. There was no bickering during the filming of the video ߙ?, although I think the last volley was aimed at my head... I can’t be the only one that wants to see Rog and Mirka hitting a few balls together...,’’ tweeted Murray from his official handle @andy_murray. The accompanying video shows the former Wimbledon and Olympic champion going for a quick exchange of volleys with his wife Kim Sears outside their home in the leafy surroundings - where Murray looks quite fit and raring to go.

It’s been a few days since then and even though world No.1 Novak Djokovic had taken up the challenge with wife Jelena, Federer is yet to oblige - prompting a deluge of queries on his official handle as to when he and Mirka would be seen going for it. ‘‘She totally would but is social media shy,’’ Federer said on @rogerfederer.

Mirka (Miroslava) Federer, now a mother of four, is easily the most qualified among the power couples of tennis to have a go as she was a former Swiss professional tennis player who has played in grand slams. The pair had, in fact, first met at the 2000 Summer Olympics, though she retired from professional tennis in 2002 due to a persistent foot injury.

Meanwhile, the volleying abilities of Murray’s wife found a surprise admirer in Feliciano Lopez, the Spanish journeyman. ‘‘Sorry to tell you that Kim’s volley looks waaaay better than yours...Is it the lefty power?I don’t know..Don’t forget to practice for the @MutuaMadridOpen virtual tournament...you are my candidate!Stay safe family!,’’ Lopez, a regular at the Dubai Duty Free Championships, said at @feliciano_lopez.

Rising up to Murray’s volley challenge, current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, tweeted the video. “Idemooo the 100-volley challenge was too easy for Jelena. haha bravoo. Thanks for the fun nomination Kim and Andy Murray! Keep the challenges coming!!!”

Last week, Federer had posted a video of himself volleying, while slamming the ball on the wall. He also urged fans and celebrities, including the likes of Virat Kohli, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal to take up the challenge.

In an interestind sideshow, veteran Indian tennis player Leander Paes went one step ahead and came up with a ‘Frying Pan’ challenge, which his former doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi also took. ‘‘For all those who wanted to see us playing together...,’’ Paes tweeted with a split-screen video of them going for the volleys and tagging Bhupathi.