Murray to rally himself at Monte Carlo

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray will start his clay-court season earlier than planned as a wildcard at the Monte Carlo Masters. The British No 1's form has dipped since his Australian Open final defeat by Roger Federer in January and his bad run continued last week when he lost in straights sets to Mardy Fish in the Miami Masters second round.

That has prompted the Scot to begin his French Open build-up this month in Monte Carlo. World No 3 Murray intends to play two more tournaments – the Rome Masters which starts on 25 April and the Madrid Open from 9-16 May – before his Roland Garros campaign begins in late May.

Meanwhile, Kim Clijsters powered her way to the Sony Ericsson Open title in Miami yesterday and brought the winning run of Venus Williams to a halt. The Belgian, 26, won 6-2 6-1 to secure her second title since coming out of retirement last year, the other coming at last year's US Open.

Williams could not contain a rampant Clijsters, who needed just 58 minutes to win her 37th career title. Clijsters came storming out of the blocks, grabbing breaks of serve in the third and fifth games on her way to wrapping up the first set in half an hour.

The Belgian expertly opened up the court to fire away a forehand for break point at the start of the second and the pressure told on Williams, who double-faulted to give up the game.

Things got worse for the American two games later when a fizzing Clijsters return set up three more break points before Williams hooked a woeful forehand into the tramlines to trail 3-0. A second successive love service game followed for Clijsters, who reeled off 16 points in a row during the middle of the set as she moved 5-1 clear. There was to be no late rearguard action from seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams as she fell 0-40 down, allowing Clijsters to break to love for the title.