Andy Murray's cleverly disguised drop shots and wrong-footing crosscourt forehands were drawing polite applause from the handful of spectators who wandered out to Court 12 to watch him practise against Belgium's Kristof Vliegen here at the Monte Carlo Country Club yesterday.
However, the Scot may enjoy less support when the Masters Series tournament raises the curtain on the European clay court season this week. His first opponent tomorrow is Jean-René Lisnard, who not only lives in Monte Carlo but is also a genuine local celebrity, as opposed to the sporting superstars who have moved here for tax reasons.
Murray, moreover, will not have the support of a watching coach, having disposed of Mark Petchey, who had been working with him for the last 10 months. Last night, Murray said: "It was not working out. We disagreed on a few things about my game but there's no hard feelings. I spent six to seven good months with Mark. We got into the top 50. I won my first tournament, got to my first final last year and played against [Roger] Federer. I just need to find someone who can take me to the next level.
"It [the split] only happened two or three days ago so I'm not rushing into [finding a new coach]. It's a big decision and hopefully I'll get someone to guide me in the right direction."
The British No 1's physical trainer, Jean-Pierre Bruyère, joined him on court yesterday but appeared to be offering little by way of advice.
Murray has others around him with sound tennis backgrounds - his mother, Judy, is a respected coach, and his agent, Patricio Apey, worked with Gabriela Sabatini - but the 18-year-old surely needs to find a replacement soon. At least he will have a friendly face alongside him in the doubles here. His partner is Tim Henman, who has given his young compatriot sound advice in the past.
Murray, who is quite at home on clay following his time at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Spain, should beat Lisnard, who is Monaco's No 1 but is ranked only No 141 in the world. However, in the next round, Murray would face either Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, or Arnaud Clement.
Henman and Greg Rusedski both face tricky first-round matches today against Argentinian clay-court specialists. Henman meets Gaston Gaudio, the No 7 seed, while Rusedski plays Juan Ignacio Chela.Reuse content