The Big Guns start brightly in Monte Carlo

World number 2 Andy Murray has marked his start to the clay season with a 6-1 6-4 victory over world number 81 Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The Brit wasted no time and raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set, putting his recent clay practice into good use. The Frenchman did break Murray’s serve to make it 4-1 but Andy didn’t let that stop his stride to the next round, he took a third break and then held serve to win the first set. No problems so far.

An early break was pivotal to the Miami Masters winner’s control of the second set. A word on time inbetween serves was made by the umpire towards the Scot, who consequently made a short exchange of angry words. If Roger-Vasselin thought it’d unsettle Murray he was completely wrong. Once serving to make it 4-2, Andy didn’t look back and eventually took the second set 6-4 and the match, taking little under 1 hour and 15 minutes. Interestingly, the match was perhaps more closely fought than the result suggests but the Brit produced the goods when it mattered and, in the end, eased past the Frenchman.

Stanislas Wawrinka now stands between Murray and quarter-finals. The world number 17 Swiss will battle it out in the last-16 with Andy, who has beat Wawrinka in 8 of the 12 meetings between the pair. They’ve met twice on clay, the surface that the Swiss considers his best and the Scot his worst, and 28-year old Stanislas who has come out on top both times.

Rafael Nadal, ‘The King of Clay’, faced no problems either against Australia’s second best – Marinko Matosevic. The 54th ranked 27 year-old Aussie had no chance in the first, and Nadal played around him, the eight time champion looked like he knew exactly where the ball would fall and he hit it perfectly almost every time. Reslting in a 6-1 set win. The Aussie broke early in the second, and it was 3-2 at on point, but from the on most rallies ended with Nadal smashing a forehand down the line. Combined with Matosevic’s clear fatigue towards the end, Rafa was able to secure the match having the the second set 6-2. Post-match he said he had a “Good feeling on the ball” which he is no stranger to on clay.

Next up the budding nine time champion faces 16th seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber, him having just beaten Spaniard Pablo Andujar in a tiring three-setter. Nadal has only lost 1 of 45 matches in Monte Carlo, so he shouldn’t be too much of a hurdle.

Novak Djokovic had a bit more trouble, as his imaginative overhead and seemingly impossible shots proved his ankle was in good condition. But he was broken twice by unseeded Russian Youzhny, and lost the first set 6-4. In the second normal service resumed though and Youzhny pushed hard in the third, but to no reward, and the Serb stole the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Next he faces in-form Juan Monaco, who was also pushed to three set by Gulbis. Still, I don’t think the no.14 will stop the top seed in his pursuit of Rafael Nadal.

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