Murray warms to his task to claim rare success on clay

Andy Murray describes the Monte-Carlo Country Club, perched on a hillside overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, as the most beautiful venue in tennis. For the last two years Murray has barely had a chance to enjoy the view at the Masters series tournament here – he ended his 2006 campaign on one leg after suffering cramp during a first-round defeat to Jean-Rene Lisnard, the world No 154, and did not even make it to the start line 12 months ago after suffering a back injury – but the British No 1 ensured his latest trip would be more than a flying visit when he made a winning start yesterday.

If a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Feliciano Lopez was no more than Murray should have expected – the world No 20 is 14 places higher in the rankings than the Spaniard and has a game much better suited to clay – it was particularly pleasing given his form on the surface. This was only Murray's third victory in his 11 tour matches on clay since he joined the senior circuit three years ago.

Alex Corretja, the former French Open finalist who has joined Murray's coaching team for the clay-court season, has been emphasising the importance of patience and the 20-year-old Scot played with sensible caution. Sliding into his shots with increasing assurance, Murray struck the ball sweetly and was not afraid to go for winners.

A bleak weather forecast proved pleasingly inaccurate as Murray warmed to his task after saving the only break point against him in the first set with a service winner. Lopez, a serve-and-volley specialist who prefers faster courts, won the first point of the tie-break, courtesy of Murray's failed drop shot, but the 26-year-old Spaniard then lost three of the first four points on his own serve.

After winning the tie-break 7-5 Murray quickly took charge of the second set. Breaks in the first and seventh games gave him the chance to serve out at 5-2, only for the Scot to drop his serve with his only loose game of the match. He made no mistake two games later, securing victory when Lopez put a forehand in the net.

"I'm happy with the way I played," Murray said. "The most important thing on clay is to find the balance between knowing when to go for your shots, when to move back and when to play aggressively on the return. I didn't play all that aggressively today. I was just trying to keep the ball high and deep and not let him come into the court too much."

Today Murray plays Filippo Volandri, a clay-court specialist. The Italian, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Nicolas Mahut yesterday, beat Murray in their first meeting on clay in 2006 but was trailing 5-1 in the first set in Hamburg 11 months ago when the Scot suffered the wrist injury that so disrupted his summer.

News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing