Murray hopes to avoid 'rubbish' repeat

Considering that his last three performances have been among the worst of his career, Andy Murray would probably prefer not to recall his last appearance at the Monte Carlo Masters. Twelve months ago, during another post-Australian Open slump, the Scot was beaten 6-2, 6-1 by Philipp Kohlschreiber in his opening match of the clay-court season. At the time he described his display as "just rubbish".

Murray meets Radek Stepanek this afternoon in his first match of the year on clay hoping to end a run of results even worse than he experienced last year. Since the Australian Open semi-finals Murray has played four matches and not won a set.

For the first time since he made his debut on the main tour seven years ago, the world No 4 has suffered two defeats in a row against players ranked outside the world's top 100, Donald Young and Alex Bogomolov junior having beaten him in his most recent matches, in Indian Wells and Miami respectively.

Stepanek, who saved two match points before beating Marcos Baghdatis in his opening match on Monday, lost his first three encounters with Murray but won their most recent meeting, at the Paris Masters 17 months ago. The 32-year-old Czech, a former world No 8, slipped this week to No 70 in the rankings, his lowest position for four years.

Since his defeat to Bogomolov, Murray has been looking for a new coach, having parted company with Alex Corretja, who had been working with him on a part-time basis for the last three years. "I'm not any closer," Murray said when asked how his search had been progressing. "I'm trying to concentrate on playing."

Given Murray's recent form it might not be wise to look beyond his opening match, but the winner will face either France's Gilles Simon or Brazil's Thomaz Belluci. Murray is seeded to meet Gaël Monfils in the quarter-finals and Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. Nadal, who is aiming to win the title for the seventh year in succession, begins his campaign today against Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

With Novak Djokovic pulling out because of a knee injury, Roger Federer is the No 2 seed behind Nadal. The Swiss beat Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-1 in his opening match yesterday.

Twelve months ago, Nadal won all three Masters Series tournaments on clay as well as the French Open. Even if he repeats that performance the Spaniard could still lose his world No 1 ranking to Djokovic, who has relatively few points to defend in the coming weeks and has won all four tournaments he has played this year.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
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.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week