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
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
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.

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?