Murray slides straight into form on clay
World No 4 serves up a storm to coast past Serb on return to surface he finds hardest to conquer
The captain of the Seabourn Sojourn, a 32,000-ton ship that had dropped anchor in the Mediterranean just a couple of hundred metres from the Monte Carlo Country Club, had obviously decided he would not see any better tennis for the rest of the day. Within minutes of Andy Murray securing an emphatic 6-0, 6-3 victory over Serbia's Viktor Troicki in the Scot's opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters, the luxury cruise liner turned and headed towards the open sea.
Turning your game around on clay after playing on hard courts for more than eight months can be as laborious a process as changing direction in a ship like the 650ft Seabourn Sojourn, but Murray found his stride immediately on what has always been his most challenging surface. The world No 4 completed his first match of the clay-court season in just 67 minutes to earn a meeting tomorrow with Jürgen Melzer or Julien Benneteau. "It's sometimes taken me two or three weeks at tournaments before I started feeling good," Murray said. "This was the first time I felt good [in the first match of a tournament.]"
Murray was 4-0 up within 17 minutes and took the first set – in which he won 14 points in a row – in less than half an hour. Troicki, whose best Grand Slam performances have been on clay at the French Open, held his serve three times in the second set but the world No 30 won just five points on Murray's serve in the whole match.
Sliding into his shots with apparent ease, Murray hit some splendid winners. There were several beautifully judged drop shots but the most spectacular stroke was a backhand down the line when he returned a smash.
"I was sliding pretty well," Murray said. "Normally that's the thing that takes time to get used to, but I did that well. Normally for me that's a good sign on the clay, whether I'm playing well or not. I've been hitting the ball well in practice. It was just whether or not I'd be feeling comfortable with the movement. I was, so I was happy with it."
Murray has felt the benefit of extra practice on clay. Following the Miami Masters he spent several days practising on red-clay courts at Boca Raton and on a green-clay court at a club next to his Florida apartment, although he will not be able to use the latter facility again.
"They're turning it into a car park in about a week," Murray said. "It's a great club. I'm really disappointed they're closing it down because it's always busy when we go there, but I guess there's more money in people parking their cars there than people running around tennis courts. Money talks sometimes, unfortunately."
Murray, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open last year, has felt more comfortable with each clay-court season. "The guys that have the most experience on the surface tend to do well here," he said. "A guy like [David] Ferrer just understands exactly what he needs to do on this surface. There's a lot of guys like him that play their best tennis here. They have a lot of experience from playing here as juniors, from growing up on it and spending more time on it on the tour. I don't play on it that often, so it's taken me more time to gain that experience."
Murray, who went on to partner his brother Jamie to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Santiago Gonzalez and Christopher Kas in the first round of the doubles, is hoping that his coach, Ivan Lendl, who won his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, will help him improve his clay-court game even more. "He only arrived this morning so he's getting no credit," Murray said, with a smile. "In the build-up to the French Open, the time I spend with him after these two tournaments, the five or six days before Barcelona and the four or five days before the French Open, will be very, very beneficial."
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, returning to the court where he lost against John Isner earlier this month in France's Davis Cup defeat by the United States, celebrated his 27th birthday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber. The No 4 seed will now meet Spain's Fernando Verdasco, the beaten finalist here two years ago, who beat Croatia's Ivan Dodig 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Chelsea transfer news: 'Eden Hazard will cost Real Madrid £100m - and a Galactico,' says Jose Mourinho
Sir Alex Ferguson reveals who he thinks is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
- 1 Student jailed for hacking University of Birmingham computers to improve his grades
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election