Murray downs Monfils at Hamburg Masters
BERLIN, May 16: Britain's Andy Murray upset in-form Gael Monfils of France in the first round of the Hamburg Masters today, winning 6-4 6-1 in the battle of the teenagers.
It was the pair's first meeting and came after world number 29 Monfils reached the semi-finals of last week's Rome Masters where he lost to eventual champion Rafael Nadal of Spain.
Murray, ranked 46 in the world, hasn't progressed beyond the second round in any of his last six tournaments but said he had played one of his best matches on clay today in windy conditions at the Am Rothenbaum.
''If I win against a guy who is making the semis of a Masters Series, and beating him 6-4 6-1, there is obviously not that much that I can do better,'' said Murray, who celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday.
''But today it was tough. It was very windy. When the sun came out, the shadow was covering half of the court which made it very tough to return from one of the sides.
''He was obviously very confident after making the semis last week. But I played the right way.'' Monfils, also 19, did not blame the wind for his defeat.
''Yes, it was difficult. But that was not the reason. The reason is that today, for me, it was a very bad day. I think I wasn't clear on the court. It's not how I was playing, but how I was thinking.'' Scot Murray plays James Blake in the second round. The American number five seed scored a fine win over former French Open champion Carlos Moya of Spain yesterday in their first-round clash.
In other matches today, fourth seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko came through 6-3 6-4 against Chile's Nicolas Massu, while Massu's compatriot and the number seven seed, Fernando Gonzalez, beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 6-4 6-3.
Nadal and world number one Roger Federer pulled out of the Hamburg tournament citing fatigue after their five-set final on Sunday that lasted more than five hours.
''It was a very tough decision but I had to fight hard from the quarter-finals on in Rome and I really am very tired,'' Federer told spectators on centre court today.
''I could have risked injuring myself, so with a heavy heart I decided against playing.'' The tournament now has its weakest line up in years, with only five of the world's top 10 involved. Argentina's David Nalbandian, Andy Roddick of the US and Australia's Lleyton Hewitt had already withdrawn.
Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic, number five in the world, is now the highest-ranked player in the event.
Reuters DH GC2130