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Murray: "Last Year Was Character Building"

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Murray© Getty ImagesMurray reached three clay-court semi-finals last year, starting at Monte-Carlo.

World No. 4 Andy Murray enters the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on the back of a runner-up finish at the Sony Ericsson Open, far superior to his form coming into the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament last year, when he bowed out in his opening-round matches at Indian Wells and Miami.

The third seed put together his best results on clay in 2011, highlighted by his first semi-final appearance at Roland Garros, and final four showings in Monte-Carlo and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

“Last year, throughout the clay-court season, I felt way better,” said Murray. “It started here. I had a good run. I probably shouldn’t have played the match against Rafa. I had the injection before we went out to play. It was tough, but it was character building in a way, as I started to play well again after struggling in Miami.”

Murray is yet to reach an ATP World Tour clay-court final, but showed signs of a breakthrough last year, pushing Nadal to three sets at the Monte-Carlo Country Club and narrowly losing to Novak Djokovic at the Foro Italico in a final set tie-break.

“All these tournaments are very important, with the French Open coming at the end,” Murray said. “Each week, you want to be playing a little better in preparation for that. It’s difficult here, as you can come up against tough players right off the bat. For me, it’s not a surface I grew up on, so it takes a little while for me to get comfortable. I’m sure someone like Rafa steps on a clay-court and feels good after a few days.”

The 24 year old opens his campaign against 27th-ranked Viktor Troicki. Murray overcame a two-sets-to-love deficit against the Serbian to win their fourth-round meeting on the red dirt in Paris a season ago. The Scot will take the court for the first time sporting his new buzz cut.

“I did it myself three days ago,” revealed Murray. “I just decided I wanted to cut my hair. It was my fitness trainer’s razor so I wasn’t sure how short it was going to be.”

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