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.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas