Assertive Andy Murray beats Stepanek at Monte Carlo

Andy Murray
Murray has now beaten Stepanek four times in five matches

British number one Andy Murray produced an authoritative display to beat Czech Radek Stepanek in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The world number four hit with power and precision to seal a 6-1 6-4 win.

It is the 23-year-old's first victory in three tournaments since losing to Novak Djokovic in the final of January's Australian Open.

Awaiting the Scot in round three is French 16th seed Gilles Simon, who beat Albert Montanes 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.

Murray, seeded third after the withdrawl of Serb Novak Djokovic because of a knee injury, has been practising with clay-court master Rafael Nadal this week with a view to picking up some tips on how to improve his game on the surface.

It seems to have paid dividends as Murray displayed an assured edge to his game to claim his first set and win since the Australian Open semi-final victory over David Ferrer on 28 January.

"I played great, I played really well. I dominated the match from the second or third game," said Murray, who received a bye in the first round. "I was a bit tentative towards the end but that's natural. I didn't give him a chance to play his game until the end."

Since the Australian Open, Murray has suffered shock early exits in both the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Masters and has also split with coach Alex Corretja, something he admits has affected him.

"I made some changes to my coaching set-up which played on my mind for a few weeks, but I believe in myself, train hard and practice hard," said Murray.

"People are going to criticise me all the time, it's something I've got to deal with.

"I'm the one on the court and challenging for the biggest events and I'm happy, a lot happier than I was at this stage last year."

But Murray belied such form by confidently hitting from the baseline to secure the first set after a third-game break had put him in control. The three-time Grand Slam finalist made only one unforced error during the first seven games.

The second set appeared to be going the way of the first, after Murray registered his fourth break of the match to take a 4-1 lead.

However, Stepanek capitalised on a period of Murray uncertainty to win the next three games and level the set.

Murray showed impressive poise though to rally and hold serve before breaking his opponent again to take the set and the match.

On facing Simon next, he added: "He's definitely a challenge, he's a very good player and doesn't make many mistakes. I believe I can win."

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