Rome Masters 2014: Andy Murray avoids birthday jinx but Roger Federer’s party finishes early

Federer lost in his first match since his wife gave birth to the couple's second set of twins

Rome

Andy Murray, who is 27 on Thursday, does not celebrate his birthdays any more. “I don’t particularly look forward to them,” Murray said here after his 6-2, 7-5 victory over Marcel Granollers at the Rome Masters. “Birthdays for me aren’t the same as when you’re 12 years old.”

Perhaps another reason why the Scot would prefer to keep a low profile is the bad luck this day has brought him in the past. Murray has retired hurt only twice on the main tour – and both occasions were on his birthday. In Hamburg in 2007 he suffered a wrist injury which forced him to miss the French Open and Wimbledon and it was here 12 months ago that he retired with a back problem that eventually required surgery.

Given that his opponent on Wednesday was the same man who had been on the opposite side of the net when he quit last year Murray could have been forgiven for being apprehensive, but the world No 8 did a thoroughly professional job in the most testing of conditions.

With a fierce wind gusting around the stadium, the dusty court surface blew into the players’ faces and played havoc with the ball. The wind was so strong that the ground staff watered the court midway through the first set in an attempt to stop the clay blowing away.

“The courts are getting mullered and there’s no clay on them at all,” Murray said. “Depending on which side of the court you’re on you have to play the wind and use it to your advantage if you can. I thought I did a good job of that, especially in the first set.”

Murray, who now meets Austria’s Jürgen Melzer in the third round, played percentage tennis, keeping the ball inside the lines, trying not to hit too many second serves and declining several opportunities to smash. However, he had two strokes of good fortune when he made his first break.

With his opponent serving at 40-30 up in the sixth game but trailing Murray 3-2 in the set, a forehand from the Scot appeared to fly wide, but the line judge’s view was blocked by Granollers, who went on to lose the point. Murray broke two points later with a backhand winner as a big gust of wind whipped up a cloud of dust that blew into Granollers’ face. The Spaniard improved in the second set and won 16 points in a row on his serve but was broken in the 12th game.

Murray is playing only his second tournament of the European clay-court season. He believes his heavy workload last summer contributed to his back problems. “Maybe I was a bit fatigued,” he said. “My body was not in great shape and sometimes you get things a bit wrong in your preparation. The important thing is to learn from that.”

Roger Federer will start the French Open, which begins in 10 days’ time, having played just one competitive match in five weeks after losing 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 to France’s Jérémy Chardy in Rome. Federer missed last week’s Madrid Masters because of the birth of his second set of twins.

While he was happy to be heading home to his family – “I can’t wait to get out of this place” – Federer also admitted: “It wasn’t fun leaving the court, thinking what happened out there. Maybe I was angry and disappointed and frustrated, but then I was like: ‘OK, let’s just go home.’ ”

The Lawn Tennis Association on Wednesday launched four “Great British Tennis Weekends” which will take place across the country this summer, the first of them this weekend. Thousands of parks and clubs will offer free tennis in an attempt to encourage more people to play.

Marion Bartoli will work at the French Open alongside John Inverdale, who apologised to the Wimbledon champion last summer for saying she was “never going to be a looker”. Inverdale will present ITV’s coverage while Bartoli will work as a pundit.

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.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence