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No.4 seed Andy Murray is better known for his prowess on hard courts, so his admission at the Foro Italico on Sunday to preferring slow, damp clay came as a complete turn-up for the books.
“I have been practising off-site these last couple of days and here on the two new courts – and yes, they’re fine,” the Scotsman said. “Here when it’s warm, the courts are pretty quick but I’ve also played in the evening and then they are pretty slow. Actually I do like clay courts when they are slow and pretty heavy, surprisingly. Courts when they are dry and pretty slippery, it’s difficult to move.”
“I feel that last weekend I did pretty well considering the conditions and the build-up to the tournament,” said Murray of his performance in Madrid, where he lost in the third round to surprise eventual semi-finalist Tomaz Bellucci. “I didn’t even know on Saturday evening that I was going to be playing and then I started getting better, feeling better every day and I’ve been practising well,” he continued, in reference to the elbow injury which hampered him in his epic semi-final tussle with Rafael Nadal in Monte Carlo and which forced him to withdraw from Barcelona.
Murray is taking his time selecting a new coach after splitting from Alex Corretja in March, and is currently enjoying working with the adidas coaching team and in particular Darren Cahill. “One of the good things about him is that he has been around on tour for a long time and has also coached many people and so it wasn’t as if he came in and didn’t know quite how to go about it. He didn’t say too much at the beginning and I am sure that when he gets to know me better then it’ll be much easier. So far it’s been nice and I like him as a person and I think he’s a very good coach, so I am very happy.”
After a bye in the first round, former world no.2 will face the winner of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Xavier Malisse, with a 2-0 head-to-head record over both.