Andy Murray said he was happy to have found his feet on the clay and in the altitude of Madrid after coming through a gruelling two-hour encounter with German Florian Mayer 7-6 (13/11), 7-6 (7/3).
The world number three’s only previous outing on the clay this season came last month in Monte Carlo, where he was disappointingly beaten by Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round, and despite being let down by his usually lethal returns,
he felt his movement on the surface was much better on his first outing in the Spanish capital.
“I felt like I hit the ball very well today, very few mishits. I just didn’t return so well. That was the only thing I would have liked to have done better.” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
“I had a lot of chances on his service games, especially in the first set. A lot of 15-30s, love-30s, 30-all points. He served well and hit a lot of aces on those points, but also I wasn’t reading the serve. So even when I was getting to it I was a little bit late and missed a few too many returns.
“Apart from that, I moved very well, which I didn’t do in Monte Carlo, so that’s a big improvement.”
With neither man able to break the other’s serve in the first-set it was decided in a marathon tie-break in which Mayer passed up five set points before Murray eventually claimed it 13-11.
The Scot had looked to be struggling physically towards the end that set, however, he believes that was just a combination of some gruelling points and dealing with the altitude.
“Yeah, I was struggling. I think both of us were at the end of the first set, there were so many long points.
“Yeah, I was struggling. I think both of us were at the end of the first set, there were so many long points”
“I was finishing a lot of the points very out of breath, and I think that’s a combination of the way the points were going, but also it’s different playing in altitude. It takes time to get used to that.”
The US Open champion then finished the stronger of the two in the second set as he came back from an early break to take the second tie-break comfortably 7-3.
And he believes his game on his least favoured surface is beginning to come together ahead of the French Open later this month.
“It’s a surface that I didn’t grow up on, so I don’t feel as comfortable on it. But it’s not to say that without the right attitude and work ethic and the right mindset going into these events that I can’t play well at them.
“I think my game should suit clay well. I just need to play a lot on it. I’d like to play a lot on it. So I would like to play more on it during the year. I think that would help me for the French Open.”