Murray restores sense of pride as he battles to give injury the elbow

Andy Murray's pride has been hurting more than his body for most of the past 10 weeks but the world No 4 headed for Spain yesterday with an injured elbow his greatest concern. Having restored much of his confidence during an excellent first week of the clay-court season, Murray will have to decide in the next 48 hours whether he is fit enough to play in this week's Barcelona Open.

The 23-year-old Scot needed a cortisone injection in his right elbow to enable him to play Rafael Nadal in Saturday's semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, though it did not prevent him pushing the world No 1 hard before losing 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in a thriller that lasted nearly three hours. The match took plenty out of Nadal, who looked well below his best yesterday despite claiming the Monte Carlo title for a record seventh year in succession with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over his fellow Spaniard, David Ferrer.

When Murray practised on Saturday morning his elbow was so painful that he could not serve. He had never had a problem with the joint before last week, but had felt some discomfort the previous day during his quarter-final victory over Frederico Gil. Murray saw the tournament doctor 40 minutes before the scheduled start of his semi-final, which was eventually delayed by half an hour.

The numbed elbow did not prevent the Scot from playing some excellent tennis, although he struggled when the effects of the injection wore off in the final set. Murray broke Nadal's serve six times and became only the second player (after Novak Djokovic in the 2009 final) to take a set off the Spaniard in this tournament since 2006.

It was a remarkable return to form by the Scot, who until last week had not won a set, let alone a match, since the semi-finals of the Australian Open. Having played only three matches in the previous two and a half months, the world No 4 played four matches in four days in Monte Carlo.

He believes there is still room for improvement. "I think I can play better," Murray said. "Obviously it's good to know you're able to play at a similar level to what [Nadal] does on the clay. To win against him, you need to be able to do that for three and a half hours, four hours. The matches that he's lost on clay the last few years have normally been long ones.

"He's the best player in the world for a reason. It's good to be close to him, but I want to try to play better than that. I'll need to if I want to beat him, because he's going to improve for sure over the next few weeks the more he plays on clay."

Nadal and Murray are the top two seeds in Barcelona, where both have first-round byes. Assuming the result of an MRI scan does not lead to his withdrawal, Murray faces a tricky opening match against Juan Carlos Ferrero or Xavier Malisse. Thereafter he could meet Juan Monaco in the third round, Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals and Ferrer in the semi-finals.

Ferrer had his chances to win his first Masters Series title but was unable to capitalise on an uncharacteristically erratic performance by Nadal. In front of a crowd that featured personalities as diverse as Prince Albert of Monaco, Bono and Caroline Wozniacki, Nadal made 30 unforced errors and hit just 22 winners before retaining his title after two hours and 16 minutes.

Although this was his 37th consecutive victory in the principality and his 29th win in a row on his favourite surface, the world No 1 did not display the same mastery he had 12 months ago, when he went on to win all the season's major clay-court honours. He had lost the last two Masters Series finals on hard courts to Djokovic, who missed this tournament because of a knee injury, and went into the event having not won a title anywhere for six months.

Nevertheless this was Nadal's 30th triumph on clay, which puts him joint third on the all-time Open era list alongside Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes, with only Guillermo Vilas (45) and Thomas Muster (40) ahead of him. The Spaniard has won 44 titles on all surfaces, while his tally of 19 Masters Series titles is two more than anyone else.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone