Sporting a brand new, close cropped buzz cut, Andy Murray opens his 2012 clay court season campaign Tuesday in Monte Carlo against Viktor Troicki in the second round.
“I did it myself three days ago,” Murray said of the new do. “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.”
Last year the Scot reached the semifinals of three of the four clay events he entered, losing at the SF stage to Rafael Nadal at Monte Carlo and the French, Novak Djokovic 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, who will be joined by tennis legend and coach Ivan Lendl, leads Troicki 4-0. But the Serb blew a 2-0 set lead against Murray at the 2011 French Open in the most recent clash.
Home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also returns to the courts where he lost a week ago to John Isner in Davis Cup. Houston winner Juan Monaco, who beat Isner Sunday in Texas, has a fast turnaround and will face Dutchman Robin Haase Tuesday.
In first round play Monday Fernando Verdasco, Jurgen Melzer, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic were all winners. Spain’s Albert Montanes upset big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Top seed Djokovic and 7-time defending champion Nadal begin play Wednesday.
“I need time, hours on court,” said Nadal who withdrew from his match against Murray in the Miami semifinals. “I need to play matches and practise to be comfortable on court. I cannot walk straight onto clay and be okay. I started playing four days ago. I just need to be patient and be ready for Wednesday.”
World No. 3 Roger Federer is idle this week.
COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
M Llodra (FRA) vs F Fognini (ITA)
 A Murray (GBR) vs V Troicki (SRB)
P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
Not Before 3:30 PM
 J Monaco (ARG) vs R Haase (NED)
S Gonzalez (MEX) / C Kas (GER) vs A Murray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR)
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