Crew-cut Murray hopes for head start on the clay

Briton brushes off all haircut questions but applauds rise in prize money at Roland Garros

Monte Carlo

Andy Murray was probably feeling the cold more than most as the traditional opening to the European clay-court season got off to a chilly start at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday. The 24-year-old Scot was sporting a close-cropped haircut, having decided to do the job himself last week.

"I had to cut my hair and that's what happened," Murray said in a matter-of-fact voice. "It was my fitness trainer's razor, or whatever you call it, so I didn't quite know how short it was going to be." Asked if the resulting crew-cut had come as a shock, he replied: "I don't really care. That stuff doesn't really bother me that much, to be honest. I'm sure for some it was a bit of a shock, but I wasn't that fazed about it."

If tonsorial fashion is not something that stirs Murray's blood, there are other matters that do. In the last year the world No 4 has become an important voice in a campaign for changes to prize money in tennis and he welcomed new arrangements announced last week for this year's French Open.

Prize money overall at Roland Garros will increase by seven per cent. The singles champions will win €1.25m (about £1,032,000), but the most significant change is the 20 per cent increase in the fees for first-round losers to €18,000 (about £14,900).

Murray is among those who believe that players beneath the top level should be better rewarded. "Tennis can often be, for some, a five-year or six-year career," he said. "It's good there's something starting to get done about it because it's starting to become quite serious. I'm glad it's happened and it's good progress.

"Hopefully next year, for 2013, the prize money will go up for every round, but I just think for now it was a good start. I think people were talking about striking or boycotting. A lot of it came from guys that were ranked between 20 and 100. They were the ones that were unhappy with the way the prize money was distributed. This is a good thing for now."

Wimbledon is expected to announce an increase in prize money next week and Murray said he would be surprised if the All England Club did not follow the French example.

"I think some of the Slams want to be the biggest Slam, the biggest tournament on the tennis calendar," he said. "I think it would be quite hard to see one tournament doing it, increasing their prize money significantly, and the other ones not wanting to follow."

Both the champions and the first-round losers in Monte Carlo will earn less than half what will be on offer in Paris, but what matters for most players is the chance to find their feet on clay. Many, including Murray and Novak Djokovic, have not played on clay since last year's French Open.

"It's not a surface that I grew up playing on, so it takes me a little while before I start feeling comfortable on it," said Murray, "whereas I'm sure someone like Rafa [Nadal] steps on a clay court and feels very good after a few days."

Although Monte Carlo is the only Masters Series tournament which is not mandatory for players, seven of the top 10 are here. The most notable absentee is Roger Federer, who is recharging his batteries and is not set to reappear until next month's Madrid Masters.

The top seeds all have byes to the second round. Murray's first opponent will be Viktor Troicki, the world No 27 who has lost all four of their previous matches but took him to five sets at last year's French Open, when the Scot was struggling with an ankle injury.

Thereafter Murray is seeded to meet Jurgen Melzer (world No 21) and Tomas Berdych (No 7), with Djokovic (No 1) his scheduled semi-final opponent. Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the top seeds in the bottom half of the draw.

Yesterday's first day saw Ivan Ljubicic play the 725th and last match of his 16-year career on the main tour. The former world No 3 won 10 titles and led Croatia to their only Davis Cup triumph, in 2005. He has also been one of the most respected figures in the game. The 33-year-old spent six years on the player council of the Association of Tennis Professionals, including two as president, and was the first active player for 16 years to serve on the ATP's board.

Suggested Topics
  • Get to the point
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.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...