Top seed Murray returns to elbow Muller aside

World No. 1 Andy Murray, who returned to the ATP Tour after an elbow injury, scrambling for a backhand during his 7-5, 7-5 win against Gilles Muller at the Monte Carlo Masters.
World No. 1 Andy Murray, who returned to the ATP Tour after an elbow injury, scrambling for a backhand during his 7-5, 7-5 win against Gilles Muller at the Monte Carlo Masters.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Andy Murray returned from more than a month out with an elbow injury to launch his clay-court season with a gruelling 7-5, 7-5 win over Gilles Muller at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday.

The world No. 1 and top seed waited until late in both sets to make his move, finally putting Muller away in just under two hours to reach the third round of the tennis tournament.

But the 29-year-old Scot was poor on his serve, with eight double faults, while breaking Luxembourg's Muller four times.

He was on the back foot in the opening set as he lost the first game and only caught up late. In the second he was also far from his fluent best, before grinding out victory.

It was his first time back on the ATP Tour since an elbow injury - his last match was a second-round loss to Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells on March 12.

The three-time Monte Carlo semi-finalist, who has had a sticky start to 2017 in terms of form and injury, now stands 13-3 for the season so far and has just one title from Dubai to his credit.

Murray was joined in the third round by Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka, who survived a second-set blip to defeat Czech Jiri Vesely 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

The 2014 champion opened up a 3-0 lead and, despite losing his serve in the fifth game, he went on to clinch the opening set.

The right-hander could not convert two break points in the second game of the second set and paid the price as Vesely broke to love for a 4-3 lead.

While Vesely, who beat world No. 2 Novak Djokovic in the second round last year, held on for the set, it was one-way traffic for Wawrinka in the decider.

The match ended when Vesely hit his fourth double fault.

Wawrinka will meet No. 16 seed Pablo Cuevas for a place in the quarter-finals.

Later, nine-time champion Rafa Nadal of Spain survived a second-set blip against Briton Kyle Edmund to go through 6-0, 5-7, 6-3.

Earlier yesterday, Austrian Dominic Thiem, seeded sixth, advanced over Robin Haase 6-3, 6-2, while Czech ninth seed Tomas Berdych defeated Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Thiem goes on to face No. 10 seed David Goffin, while Berdych will face Croat Marin Cilic.

Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 13 seed, who finished runner-up to Thiem in the Rio de Janeiro final earlier this year, will play second seed Djokovic after he knocked out Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-4 in 88 minutes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

MONTE CARLO MASTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Top seed Murray returns to elbow Muller aside'. Print Edition | Subscribe