There will be no Andy Murray at Roland Garros this year but Laura Robson has the chance to add another big name to her list of Grand Slam victims when she was given Caroline Wozniacki in this morning’s French Open draw.
Murray would have been seeded number two, and if so he would have avoided both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who were put in the same upper half.
The other side of the men’s draw is the place to be, with Roger Federer and David Ferrer the two top men on that side.
It means that last year’s finalists Nadal and Djokovic could face off in a titanic semi-final two weeks today.
Tough start: Laura Robson will face Caroline Wozniacki in the first round of the French Open Robson’s is the most intriguing match up of the three British women competing at Roland Garros over the next fortnight, with Elena Baltacha up against New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic and Heather Watson taking on Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele.
Former world number one Wozniacki is ranked ten at present, but she has lost five out of six matches on clay this season, including this week’s first round of the Brussels Open.
Rory McIlroy’s other half is well-known to the British teenager as they have trained together and both have had some coaching from Dutchman Sven Groeneveld, who works for their clothing sponsors, adidas.
Overall Robson, who has taken out the likes of Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska this year, will see it as a big opportunity for an upset.
Under normal circumstances Watson and Baltacha might also consider their contests with optimism, Erakovic being 91 in the world and Voegele 58.
However, for Watson it is her first tournament back since being struck by glandular fever while Baltacha is slowly working her way back following ankle surgery that came after the Olympics.
Defending champion: Rafael Nadal bites the French Open trophy after winning the title last year Tough draw: Novak Djokovic could meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals Of the main men, Djokovic looks to have the toughest draw, although worst of all is for the dangerous Tomas Berdych.
Thirty years after Yannick Noah won at Roland Garros, he has Frenchman Gael Monfils in the first round probably followed by the resurgent Ernests Gulbis in the second.
Roger Federer says Andy Murray is one of the fittest men on the tour.
Tennis great Roger Federer says the timing of Andy Murray’s back injury is very unfortunate for the British world No 2.
Murray picked up the injury during the Rome Masters and has already announced he will have to miss the French Open, which gets underway on Sunday.
However, 17-time Grand Slam winner Federer has backed Murray to be fit for Wimbledon, which gets underway on 24 June.
“What you don’t want to happen is to get injured in this phase right now – right before the French, leading into Wimbledon,” said Federer.
“I think that is what happened when Andy injured his wrist six years or so ago.
Something happened in Hamburg and he missed the whole tour.
“The back comes and goes, as we know.
Injuries are part of the game “Clearly, only Andy knows what he has, how much pain he feels, but those are normal tennis injuries to have, those wear and tear, niggling injuries.
“It’s part of the game, it’s what we do, we play with pain very often.
“The only problem is, if you play too long with something that hurts, it’s just not so much fun any more.
“Andy is one of the fittest guys out there and I am sure he is going to be ready.”
Roger Federer admitted he had no answer to Rafael Nadal’s masterclass after the Spaniard put him to the sword to win the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome.
Nadal, competing in his eighth final in a row since returning from a seven-month injury lay-off in February, raced to a crushing 6-1 6-3 win in one hour and nine minutes to claim his third straight title and sixth of 2013.
It was the first time the pair, who have won 28 grand slam titles between them, have met in a final since the 2011 French Open, an encounter Nadal won, and the fifth seed showed his great rival no mercy again.
Rampant: Rafael Nadal bites the Internazionali d’Italia trophy in Rome after battering Roger Federer The clay court master was at his clinical best, converting five out of six break-point opportunities, while the Swiss had to settle for one out of two.
Federer accepted he could not live with his dominant opponent, telling the ATP website: “It didn’t go how I hoped and I was missing too many easy forehands and crucial points.
‘He does an incredible job returning form the back of the court and it is hard because he covers the court so well.
You need to serve accurately.
When Rafa is at his best he creates opportunities in rallies and dictates.
It was difficult to change.’ Nadal’s win took their head-to-head record to 20-10 in his favour.
In the women’s final, world number one Serena Williams was an equally emphatic winner as she dispatched Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-3 to claim her fourth straight title – but still refused to get carried away by her French Open hopes.
Fine form: Nadal continues his sensational run by beating the Swiss in Italy Glory boy: Nadal holds his arms in the air after securing the win over Federer The American crushed her third-ranked opponent in one hour and 33 minutes to continue her ominous form.
It was Williams’ 24th consecutive win on the WTA Tour and saw her add to the titles she has won in recent weeks in Miami, Charleston and Madrid.
The Belorussian simply had no answer to her opponent, who carved out 16 break points, taking six of them, as she dominated the Azarenka serve.
It means Williams will head into Roland Garros, where she has not got past the last eight since 2004, in the best possible form.
Not today: Roger Federer was beaten in little over an hour by the Spaniard She said: ‘The first three games took about 20 minutes – it wasn’t easy, nothing is ever easy.
I think the difference today was I took the opportunities when I had them and came up with some good shots.
‘And this was the best I’ve moved all week – I feel fit and hopefully it’ll stay like this.
‘Last year I was feeling excellent but didn’t do that great at Roland Garros – this year I’m cautious and I want to work hard and stay focused and win every point I play, and not slack at all.’ Azarenka added on the WTA website: “We had a lot of tight games and the match was closer than the score, but Serena played a very good match and was better in the important moments.
‘She was just better than me today.
She’s playing incredible tennis, maybe she’s at her best level for the last year and a half or so.’
Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a seventh title in the Italian capital thanks to a stunning semi-final victory against Tomas Berdych.
Nadal, who came into this year’s tournament seeded only fifth having missed seven months of action because of a knee injury, was in blistering form and came through relatively untroubled 6-2 6-4, in an hour and 17 minutes.
The 11-time Grand Slam champion produced a superb opening set of tennis, losing just one point on serve against the Czech sixth-seed in just 31 minutes of action.
Berdych, who booked an unlikely place in the last four after upsetting top-seeded Novak Djokovic, put up much more of a fight in the second set.
He kept his composure and his serve until Nadal sensed an opportune moment to break in the ninth game when he turned on the gas to break Berdych before serving out the match.
Sunday will be Nadal’s eighth consecutive final and he will meet either second seed Roger Federer or Frenchman Benoit Paire, who play later on Saturday.
British No 1 Andy Murray finally reached the quarter-final of the Mutua Madrid Open after he broke the dogged resistance of Frenchman Gilles Simon in a match lasting almost three hours.
Murray lost the first set 6-2 but hit back to level the match by winning the second 6-4 and it seemed that victory was inevitable when he took a 3-0 lead in the third set.
However, the world No 17 consistently clawed his way back when he appeared on the brink of defeat and eventually the match went to a tie-break before the Scot won 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).
Long battle: Murray’s relief is plain to see after the victory Roaring on: Murray advances into the last eight It was a sapping match lasting just four minutes shy of three hours and left the Briton, who will return to No 2 in the world after Roger Federer’s surprise defeat, little time to recover before his last-eight match on Friday with Tomas Berdych.
Murray was broken in the first game of the match, as a weak lob was put away convincingly by Simon to set up break point and Murray then sent a backhand wide.
The Scot had his first chance to level matters in the sixth game, with a break point against a second serve, but sent a backhand long and slipped 4-2 behind.
An ill-judged leave put him 15-30 down in his next service game and he was broken for a second time, leaving Simon serving for the set.
And though he twice fell behind in the game, the Frenchman pulled through to take the set 6-2 in 37 minutes.
Simon had dominated the longer rallies, with Murray attempting to counter by stepping some two yards inside the baseline on second serve.
Close encounter: Simon took the first set Simon repeated his flying start in the second set, a lengthy first game ending with a superb swinging smash down the line to break.
But Murray’s aggressive approach against the second serve finally paid dividends as a deep return allowed him to level at 2-2, with his seventh break point in a game lasting well over 10 minutes.
Murray trailed 15-30 while serving at 4-4, but responded with a big second serve, a thumping smash and a superb dipping cross-court forehand to win three successive points and take the game.
He allowed four set points to slip away but a big double-fault from Simon, clearly flustered by his opponent again advancing, set up a fifth and Murray finally took the set 6-4.
Following the second set the court was doused with water prompting bewilderment from Simon.
Down and out: Simon’s comeback was in vain However, it had no affect on Murray who held serve to love before breaking his opponent with superb cross-court shots that Simon could do nothing about.
The Scot clearly had the bit between his teeth and again held for love for 3-0 as he appeared to show Simon a clear pair of heels.
The Frenchman, however, rallied and completely unexpectedly hauled himself back to 3-3.
The match then went with serve with Murray moving to 5-4 and Simon forced to serve to stay in the match.
The Frenchman’s touch at times deserted him and he had a number of reprieves before holding for 5-5.
Gruelling battle: The pair embrace after the match Murray held and then a ferocious forehand saw him claim double match point, neither of which he could convert, and a smash saw Simon hold to send the match into a tie-break.
Some sublime play from Murray, including an audacious drop shot which went inches into his opponent’s court, saw him to a 4-1 lead.
Simon though would not give up and he clawed his way back to 4-4 and although Murray claimed two more match points, his rival would not let go and again they were level at 6-6.
Murray moved to match point at 7-6 and finally prevailed, Simon hitting the ball into the net as the pair were greeted with rapturous applause.
Onwards and upwards: Murray launches a sweatband into the crowd Murray admitted he could have been more clinical and finished the match earlier in the deciding set but pointed to the battling nature of Simon.
He told Sky Sports 4: ‘It’s very different playing in the evening, the ball doesn’t bounce particularly high.
He was taking my time away and hitting close to the lines and making it very difficult.
I managed to turn it around.
‘I probably could have finished the third a bit quicker if I had taken some of my chances but he fought.’ Of his last-eight clash with Berdych, Murray said: ‘I am just going to focus on recovering properly.
By the time I am in bed it will be about 3.30, 4am so I need to focus on that and then worry about the match tomorrow night.’
A teary Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest scalp of his burgeoning career as he knocked world No 1 Novak Djokovic out of the Mutua Madrid Masters.
The 21-year-old Bulgarian, nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’, was treated to a standing ovation after he battled cramp to eventually come through a memorable three-hour second-round battle 7-6 (8/6) 6-7 (10/8) 6-3.
Djokovic was similarly impressed, repeatedly clapping his rivals throughout a contest in which he needed a 10-minute medical time out after rolling his ankle during the second set.
Big scalp: Grigor Dimitrov (right) is congratulated by world No 1 Novak Djokovic after beating the Serbian The Serb had seemingly recovered from the setback, though, when he saved a match point in the second set tie-break before going on to level the contest.
Dimitrov’s challenge had also looked to be faltering when he was struck down by cramp during the tie-break, but he immediately recovered to break in the opening game of the deciding set.
He never looked back from there to further cement the comparisons that have been made between him and 17-time major winner Roger Federer.
Federer earlier returned from an eight-week break to ease into the third round with a 6-3 6-3 win over Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.
‘I didn’t think I played incredible, but that’s not what I was expecting myself to do here.
But I didn’t play bad, either,’ said Federer.
Emotional: Dimitrov was teary-eyed after beating the multiple grand slam-winner Frustration: Djokovic could not overcome the player nicknamed ‘Baby Fed’ ‘ I’m very happy with how things went today.’ Stanislas Warwinka was Andy Murray’s conqueror on the Cote d’Azur and the 15th seed booked a second-round berth with a 6-4 6-4 win over Mariu Copil.
Frenchman Gilles Simon was the only other seed to go through today, beating countrymen Jeremy Chardy 6-4 7-6 (7/5) in their second-round contest.
Richard Gasquet (eight) headed the list of three seeds to fall with Janko Tipsarevic (nine) and Milos Raonic (12) bowing out.
Benoit Paire earned a second-round clash with Rafael Nadal as he beat Joao Souza 6-1 7-6 (7/0).
Emerging talent: Dimitrov was in fantastic form to knock Djokovic out of the Madrid Masters
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Andy Murray will begin his preparations for the clay court season in buoyant mood after moving to second in the world rankings with victory over David Ferrer in the Sony Open final.
Murray was far from his best in the Miami showpiece, losing the first set, saving a match point in the third and losing his serve on multiple occasions in an occasionally ragged encounter.
But the result – a 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7/1) win – was precisely the one he wanted, enough to win him the trophy for the second time in his career and leapfrog Roger Federer in the standings.
Like Bond: Andy Murray (unintentionally) recreated the iconic image of Daniel Craig emerging from the water It is not an achievement he will have time to reflect on for long, though.
Instead he will soon be back in training on clay ahead of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, which begins on April 13.
And Murray was already analysing the required improvements, notably his patchy service.
‘My focus now is on Monte Carlo.
I’ll take probably four days off and then start training here (in Miami) on clay,’ he told Sky Sports One.
Wading: Murray walks in the ocean after his three set victory against David Ferrer ‘Monte Carlo is next and I’ll just keep trying to improve my clay game.
I did a lot of things well this week but I need to serve better.
I served poorly.
‘If I’d served better I could have made it easier and that’s something I need to do better in the clay court season.
If I serve better I’ll be able to win matches like this one more comfortably.
It’s easier to return on clay so it’s even more important to serve well.’ Although eager to improve, Murray also suggested he is already on an upward curve.
‘It was a strange match,” he said.
“I just managed to fight well in the end in incredibly difficult conditions.
Prize: Murray poses on the beach at Key Biscayne with his Sony Open trophy ‘That sort of match a couple of years ago I probably would have lost…I was up a break three or four times in the third set and kept letting him back in through some loose shots.
‘I tried to keep fighting, chased down every ball, made it as hard for him as possible.
‘There was a lot riding on the match and I was glad to get through in the end.’ The Scot lost the first set yesterday after Ferrer started the match by opening up a 5-0 lead.
Murray improved in the second, taking charge at the crucial moment and reeling off successive games to take a 6-4 success and force a decider.
Anything Andy can do: Serena Williams, winner of the women’s final at the Sony Open, poses with the trophy at the beach too Up for a paddle: Serena Williams takes a victory stroll at Crandon Park Battling performance: Murray (right) beat Ferrer (left) in a thrilling clash The resulting third set was fascinating, as much for its mistakes as anything else.
Remarkably, the first six games went against serve as break followed break with increasing predictability.
At 5-4 Murray served for the match, unsuccessfully, and soon after his Spanish opponent wasted a hard-earned championship point on a misguided line challenge.
Murray finally took charge in the tie-break, dominating it 7-1 to seal victory.
Andy Murray takes to the beach after his victory in the Sony Miami Masters lifted him to No2 in the world.
Photograph: Virginie Bouyer/Panoramic/Photoshot Andy Murray is hopeful he can eventually overhaul Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings after rising to world No2 after defeating David Ferrer at the Miami Masters.
The 25-year-old climbed above Roger Federer with the 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 victory in the final in Miami and although his points tally of 8,750 is a long way off Djokovic’s 12,370, Murray is confident he is on the right path.
When asked about his return to the world’s top two, Murray told atpworldtour.com: “For me it doesn’t change a huge amount, but the fact that I’m moving up the rankings is a good sign.
I have been winning a lot of matches.
My consistency has been better over the last few months.
The rankings obviously reflect that, so I will try and keep working hard during the clay season and hopefully I can go higher.” Murray was far from his best for long periods on Sunday, losing the first set and seeing his own serve frequently broken by his Spanish opponent.
But the Scot clung on for more than two hours and 45 minutes, staving off a match point late in the third set, to claim the Miami title for the second time in his career.
“I don’t think either of us played our best tennis.
There was a lot of breaks and ups and downs, and quite a lot of mistakes from both of us.
But what I did do was fight hard, showed good mental strength to get through that match, because it easily could have slipped away from me.” He continued on Sky Sports 1: “That sort of match a couple of years ago I probably would have lost I was up a break three or four times in the third set and kept letting him back in through some loose shots.
“I tried to keep fighting, chased down every ball, made it as hard for him as possible.
There was a lot riding on the match and I was glad to get through in the end.” After the match, Murray headed to the beach for a cool off and to pose with the trophy.
There will not be much time for relaxation, though, with his next tournament, the Monte Carlo Masters, beginning on 13 April and Murray keen to start practising on clay, a surface he admits is his worst even though he has reached the semi-final of the French Open in the past.
“My focus now is on Monte Carlo.
I’ll take probably four days off and then start training here in Miami on clay,” he added.
“I did a lot of things well this week but I need to serve better.
I served poorly.
It’s easier to return on clay so it’s even more important to serve well.” Simply achieving the world No2 ranking, though, has given him a bit of breathing space, with the possibility, if the rankings remain as they are, that he could be drawn in the opposite half of the draw to Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the French Open.
“It was nice to get there so I can go into the clay-court season just focused on improving and going forward and not worrying about rankings or seedings or anything like that,” Murray told the BBC.
“I can play some decent tennis on it but I need to work extremely hard on the clay because I haven’t played on it in 10-and-a-half months now, so it always takes me a bit of time to get used to,” Murray added.
“It’s the most challenging surface for me and with Rafa coming back it’s going to be very tough, but I’ll give it my best shot.
“I didn’t want to overplay too much at the beginning of the year a lot of guys this week have been complaining they’re tired and we saw quite a few guys pulling out.
I think being fresh helped me and hopefully I can keep managing my schedule well throughout the year.”
Andy Murray celebrates as he clinches the Miami Masters Andy Murray says he will have to serve much better that he did in winning the Miami Masters if he wants to be a serious contender in the clay court season.
Murray won a titanic duel with David Ferrer in the Miami final, fighting back from match point down to win 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1).
The victory means he climbs above Roger Federer and becomes the world No 2 for the first time.
But the tour now moves on to clay where Murray – who prefers fast surfaces – has never had much success.
He admits his first serve percentage against Ferrer, just 54 per cent, is something he will have to improve.
“I served poorly.
If I’d served better I could have made it easier and that’s something I need to do better in the clay court season,” he told Sky Sports 1.
“This week I did a lot of things well but I need to serve better.
If I serve better I’ll be able to win matches like today more comfortably.
It’s easier to return on clay so it’s even more important to serve well.” Although eager to improve, Murray also suggested he is already on an upward curve.
“It was a strange match.
I just managed to fight well in the end in incredibly difficult conditions.
“That sort of match a couple of years ago I probably would have lost…I was up a break three or four times in the third set and kept letting him back in through some loose shots.
“I tried to keep fighting, chased down every ball, made it as hard for him as possible.
There was a lot riding on the match and I was glad to get through in the end.
“It was such a tough match, it could have gone either way, both of us were struggling physically at the end,” said Murray whose victory was his second at Miami following his triumph in 2009.
“It’s so tough against him.
He has a great attitude, he’s a great fighter.
I am sure we will have more tough matches in the future.”