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Andy Murray goes into the second grand slam of the season, the French Open, in buoyant mood after winning the Italian Open for the first time in his career, earlier this month.

The Scotsman who has never had the clay court surface down as one of his favourites, has made massive strides and improvements with his game over the past few seasons to challenge the very best. This has been seen on the clay court season this year.

A fantastic run to the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, see him take a set off clay court king, Rafa Nadal, before going on to lose to the eventual winner of the competition. Two weeks later, they met again in Madrid, but this time, Murray beat his rival before losing to Djokovic in the final. Something that was to be repeated in Rome a week later.

Djokovic, fresh from his Madrid win, was out-of-sorts, earlier in the week, and seemed rattled by his opponents. But an excellent win in the quarter-final against Nadal, was followed up with a hard 3-set win against Nishakori. 

The Serbian, who needs the French Open, to complete a historic win of Grand Slams, is still searching for that elusive clay title, that saw him lose in the final last year to Stan Warwinka. He cannot be in any better  form to lift the Paris trophy.

The top 2 players in the world, carried on from their last Masters final.  Nothing separated them in the first set, until Murray, on his 29th birthday, broke Djokovic in the fourth game to nail home his advantage and take the first set inside 50 minutes.

Djokovic, aiming for his 30th ATP 1000 Masters victory, made inroads in the second set and threatened Murray’s service several times, before Murray held.  And the decisive moment came at 2-2 when Murray came away with the advantage after breaking to lead 3-2. He continued to dominate this advantage before taking the match with an unbelievable backhand shot to complete a famous win. – 6-3, 6-3.

“It’s mostly great players that have won this event, so am very proud to have my name on the trophy, “ added Murray, who became the first British winner of the Italian Open since 1931.

Murray’s preparations for the French Open have been far from ideal off-court though with his split from coach Amelie Mauresmo.  The two year partnership came to an end at the Madrid Open and, contrary to reports of Murray’s behaviour being the key to the split, the world no.2  said it couldn’t be further from the truth.  

"We spoke very calmly the whole time. To say the reason we stopped working together is because of my behaviour on the court is not true."

Meanwhile, for the first time in 17 years, Britain have two players through to the third round of the French Open men’s draw in Andy Murray and Aljaz Bedene. The latter will play Novak Djokovic.

Of the British women, only Heather Watson made it to the second round, before she was defeated. Jo Konta, Laura Robson and Naomi Broady were ousted in first round defeats, and will head for the grass tournaments ahead of next month’s Wimbledon Championships.


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Murray wins in Italy
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