Murray feels 'great' ahead of Madrid Open

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray feels "great" following his recent elbow injury as he heads into this week's Madrid Open looking to build on last month's display in Monte Carlo.

Murray started 2011 in impressive fashion by reaching the Australian Open final but, after losing to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, he then endured a dramatic loss of form, failing to win even a single set in suffering successive first-round exits in Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami.

The world number four got himself back on track in Monte Carlo, though, reaching the semi-finals before losing to eventual winner and claycourt king Rafael Nadal.

Murray was hampered by en elbow injury in that match, and that subsequently led to him pulling out of the following week's tournament in Barcelona.

However, the Scot looks to have overcome that problem having trained for the last week and he is in confident mood going into the Madrid Open - an event in which he has reached the quarter-finals in the last two years and which he won in 2008, albeit when the tournament was hardcourt rather than the current clay surface at La Caja Magica.

"I feel great," said the 23-year-old.

"I've been practising really well. I feel good again, got the right mentality just now and that's something I'll have to keep up, but I've been playing very well so hopefully I can keep that up here."

Murray's performance on clay in Monaco, which saw him beat Radek Stepanek, Gilles Simon and Frederico Gil in straight sets before losing in three sets to Nadal, will undoubtedly have helped his confidence at the start of the claycourt season.

Taking a set off Nadal in the semi-finals - the Spaniard being almost untouchable on clay having won 34 successive wins on that surface heading into the Madrid Open - will also have been a boost to Murray, although he still has work to do to challenge the world number one on clay.

"I still feel I can improve. I said I played well in that match but I still feel I could've done better," he said. "There are things I can improve upon from that match in terms of where I was with my game before Monte Carlo.

"That was a big step in the right direction. I practise with Rafa quite a lot. I enjoy playing against him.

"I feel I can definitely compete against him and even win against him, but it's a very difficult thing to do because he's one of the best players of all time. It's difficult, but I think I can get there."

Murray, who is on the opposite half of the draw to both Nadal and Roger Federer in Madrid, has a first-round bye in the Spanish capital, where he is seeded fourth.

His opening match will be against either Frenchman Simon or experienced Croatian Ivan Ljubicic in the second round.

Murray has won five of his six meetings with Simon - including in the 2008 Madrid final and also in Monte Carlo last month - while against Ljubicic, the Scot has a 3-3 record.

"I've got a tough first match but definitely one I can win if I play well," he added.