There were a few tears shed as Marius Copil came through a bruiser of an opening match on a scorching day in the Caja Magica. Against a crowd rooting for their man, the Romanian overcame Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, in a battle of the wildcards, landing a place in the Top 100.
The emotions will need to be battened down tight as the turnaround is quick, with Andy Murray his reward. Murray was upbeat after his season took a downturn in the USA hard-court spring with yet another early exit in Indian Wells, and a withdrawal from Miami with an elbow injury that left him feeling even doubtful that he would be able to play Monte Carlo.
As it was, the elbow held up enough for him to honour his charity commitments with Roger Federer in Switzerland, and although he did not come close to defending last year’s semi-final points, he was happy to take the rounds he did play.
Despite a hilarious video from Estoril trying to persuade him to come there on a wildcard he opted for the ATP 500 in Barcelona and a break before Madrid. Even that came with issues as the rain compounded the schedule, but again the World No. 1 picked up a few rounds and comes here with expectations high.
In the form he has shown on the clay the last two years, he ought to take Copil apart quite effectively, but this year with Murray recovering, Rafael Nadal with an ear-problem and Novak Djokovic having dispensed with his entire team, the field feels quite open this year, and it seems the men at the top could still be quite vulnerable.
In general Copil has a decent serve about him and he did get a sound win against a decent clay court player, but Garcia-Lopez is not the player he once was, and you have to feel that even a slightly under-cooked Murray still has bags more variety and weight of shot in his kitbag to enjoy a quick workout over the Romanian.
Despite tucking a couple of wins under his belt in Barcelona, with a decent field to boot, it was not to be for Dan Evans as Robin Haase ended his campaign. To give some credit to Evans, it had looked hopeless as the Dutchman broke Evans in the first game and kept his advantage, but faltered as he went to serve for the first set.
Evans battled hard to get on even terms and it looked as though the fight-back was on, but a loose game (and suitably wrecked racket) cost Evans a chance to upset the odds. From there, Haase just put the hammer down and ran away with the second set with two successive breaks at the start of the second set.
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