Andy Murray Ends Losing Streak by Defeating Radek Stepanek in Monte Carlo

Andy Murray beat Radek Stepanek in his opening round of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters today, the British No. 1’s first win on the men’s tennis tour since reaching the Australian Open final in January.

Murray, fourth in the ATP World Tour rankings, defeated the 70th-ranked Czech 6-1, 6-4 on the clay courts of the Monte Carlo Country Club. He’ll play No. 24 Gilles Simon of France next.

The 23-year-old started 2011 well, making it to a second straight final at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he was beaten 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 by Novak Djokovic.

While the second-ranked Djokovic of Serbia has yet to lose this season, Murray hadn’t won since the semifinal victory over Spain’s David Ferrer in Melbourne on Jan. 28. He lost in the opening round at Rotterdam to former world No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus; in the first round at Indian Wells, California, to Donald Young; and in the first round at Miami to another U.S. qualifier, 118th-ranked Alex Bogomolov Jr.

“It was a little bit tough,” Murray said in a televised interview after today’s match. “But I believe in myself, I train hard, I practice hard, that’s all I can do.”

Murray practiced yesterday with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal. The Spanish lefthander, who is seeking a record seventh straight title in Monaco, today started his 2011 clay-court campaign by beating Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-2, 6-2.

Murray told reporters two days ago in Monte Carlo that he hasn’t found a new permanent coach yet, having parted ways last month with Alex Corretja after three years.

He’s accompanied in Monte Carlo by his childhood friend and hitting partner Dani Vallverdu, while he can also call on the services of Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld, who are part of the player development team of his clothing sponsor, Adidas AG. (ADS)

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