Angry Andy crashes out but claims he is learning on clay

 

Tomas Berdych is one of only three players in the world's top 20 – Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are the others – who have won more matches against Andy Murray than they have lost. The powerful Czech's big-hitting game usually gives Murray trouble and once again he got the better of him yesterday, winning their quarter-final at the Monte Carlo Masters 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.

The match, nevertheless, was just the sort of work-out Murray needs on what has always been his most challenging surface. The 24-year-old Scot had started the day with less than three sets of competitive clay-court play in singles under his belt this year and Berdych admitted that his greater court time in recent days had been crucial. The world No 7 had already played four matches and 11 sets on clay in the previous fortnight.

As Murray had pointed out beforehand, Berdych is an exception among the top players in that he makes few changes to his attacking game on clay, eschewing the heavy top spin most use and choosing instead to stick with his big, flat ground strokes. Because he plays with a smaller margin for error than most – and because it is harder to hit winners on clay – the strategy can be risky, but the 26-year-old Czech struck the ball with almost unerring accuracy.

"He played very, very well today – for his game style he made very few unforced errors," Murray said. "He dictated a lot of the points. He went for his shots. I think he served very well too.

"He served a lot of serves close to the lines. It was first serve and first hit in the rally. No matter how much you would have liked to have dictated the points, when someone serves 137 miles an hour to the line, hits a forehand to the line, you can't dictate the point. That's what happened on his service games."

While Berdych had 16 break points in the match, Murray, who is one of the best returners, forced only one. The Scot's frustration got the better of him at times. Since Ivan Lendl's appointment as his coach, Murray has generally been much better at channeling his emotions and maintaining his focus, but here he regularly berated himself and at one stage smashed his racket on the ground. Lendl, who will also be with Murray at next week's Barcelona Open, watched impassively from the stands.

In the early stages in particular, Murray was clearly unhappy with the uneven court surface, on which two players have suffered injuries in heavy falls this week. There were several bad bounces, although Berdych had even more cause for complaint after two such moments at crucial times in the tie-break at the end of the first set.

Although Murray sometimes played too cautiously, he said that his first tournament of the year on clay had been "a decent start" and that a match that had lasted 13 minutes short of three hours, in which he had done most of the running, would put him in good stead for the weeks ahead.

"There are a lot of things I would have liked to have done better," he said. "It takes a lot of time for me to do it on this surface. It doesn't come straight away. It takes time for me to understand the way I'm needing to play."

Berdych will play Djokovic in today's semi-finals after the world No 1 beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-2 in just 77 minutes. Nadal, who is attempting to win the title here for the eighth year in a row, beat Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5, 6-4. He now faces the winner of last night's concluding quarter-final between the two Frenchmen, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor