Andy Murray makes his return from an elbow injury on Wednesday, when he takes on Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters.
Andy Murray vs Gilles Muller ATP Monte Carlo Masters tennis is live from Monte Carlo on Wednesday, 19 April from 12:30pm local time/ 11:30am BST. Watch and bet on tennis live from Monte Carlo at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
Murray’s last match was an opening round loss to Vasek Pospisil at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and soon after, he announced his withdrawal from the Miami Masters because the elbow problem- which also ruled him out of Great Britain’s Davis Cup quarter final in France.
The extent of the injury was not initially clear, with some reports suggesting that Murray could be out up until the Madrid Masters, but the world number one has recovered in time to take his place in the Monte Carlo draw, and he insists that he would not be playing if he isn’t fully fit.
Murray’s elbow injury was the latest issue he’s had to deal with in a troublesome season. Apart from the health problems, his form has been dodgy all year- starting with an unconvincing run to the final in Doha, before eventually losing to Novak Djokovic in his first tournament of the season- his first defeat since losing to Kei Nishikori in the quarter finals of the US Open, ending a career-best 28-match winning streak.
The Doha loss to Djokovic passed without too many raised eyebrows, but the alarm bells were set off when the world number one fell to Mischa Zverev in the fourth round of the Australian Open. On getting home from his Melbourne misadventure, Murray discovered that he had shingles, a medical condition not unrelated to the amount of physical effort he had put in at the back end of last season, and during the off-season, but he recovered from that to win his first title of the season (the only one so far) in Dubai. Again, he wasn’t quite at his best, but made the most of a disintegrating draw.
That has been as good as it has got for Murray this year, as his record after Dubai reads played one, lost one. His no-show in Indian Wells and Miami meant he missed out on an excellent opportunity to stretch his lead on top of the world rankings, having had very little points to defend on the North American hard courts, but with so many points to defend between now and the end of the season, Murray is condemned to snap out of the lackluster form of the first three months of the year, else he will not be at number one for too much longer.
Murray put together a career-best clay court season in 2016, winning the title in Rome, reaching finals in Madrid and Roland Garros, and making the semi-finals in Monte Carlo.
Can he reproduce such great form on the dirt in 2017?
He first match on the surface is against Gilles Muller.
Gilles Muller. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Late bloomer Muller lost his first match of 2017 to Jared Donaldson in Brisbane, but he hit back superbly with a run to his first career title at the Apia International in Sydney. That launched the 33-year-old into the world’s top 30 for the first time in his career.
Muller has not quite reached those heights since then, with a quarter final in Sofia the best he has managed, but he has picked up enough wins to maintain his place in the top 30. The only other tournament where he has failed to win a match was in Dubai, where he lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round.
Muller reached the second round of the first two Masters 1000 events of the year at Indian wells and Miami, and he made it three second round appearances in arrow with a rather surprising victory over Tommy Robredo in his Monte Carlo opener.
‘Rather surprising’ because Muller has a terrible record on clay, while Robredo, despite his recent injury problems, is far more accomplished on the surface. Muller had not won a match on clay since Roland Garros 2015, while he had won a cumulative total of three matches on the surface in nine years- that gives a clear picture of how bad he has been on the dirt.
Despite Murray’s recent inactivity, it’s hard to make a case for Muller in this second round meeting. His biggest weapon, the serve, is not only nullified by the slowness of the surface, but also by the quality of the returning from his opponent; and when he does venture forward, Murray will have even more time to pick his spots on the passing shots.
Muller also isn’t the best mover on the tour (and that is being generous!), and that lack of mobility is greatly exposed on this surface, especially against a natural athlete like Murray.
Murray has won all four previous meetings against the Muller, on surfaces far more favourable to the Luxembourger (three on hard courts, and once on grass), and the world number one should make it win number five in this first ever union on clay.