Novak Djokovic rapidly seized the upper hand, flouting Andy Murray, the British number one, in his drawn-out first-service game, and then twice more to race to the opening set. Murray found his rhythm in the second set, and he broke Djokovic at 2-1, but the Serbian broke straight back.
The Scot stayed with Djokovic, only to tamely hand his old rival the break—and the match—in the 10th game.
"It was a great win for me, but I didn't expect such an easy first set," Djokovic said. "At the start of the match we had a really, really long game—the second of the match—and I think it was the turning point in that set. I was trying to stay focused and stay calm, and be aggressive, because Andy is a very talented player and can come back at any time."
Djokovic hardly gave Murray a chance in his adopted hometown of Monte Carlo. He was in stunning form, and was able to dictate the early pace of the match, forcing Murray back behind the baseline. The 14th-seeded Scot was pushed to six deuces in his opening service game by Djokovic's huge ground-strokes, and he eventually succumbed, handing the Australian Open champion the early break.
Djokovic unyieldingly raced on, breaking Murray, who could not take advantage of two break points in the fifth game, and lost the first set in 39 minutes. Murray, who struggles to find his best form on clay, appeared to have settled into the slower surface's demands in the second set.
In addition, a lack of concentration by his fellow 20-year-old saw Murray take advantage of Djokovic's errors and break at 2-1. Nevertheless, the world's number three roused himself, and broke straight back as Murray slung a drop shot into the net. Murray gritted his teeth and fought back from 0-40 down at 3-3 to stay with his former junior rival, but his struggle weakened at the last.
Successive unforced errors let Djokovic in, and he clinched the decisive break and the match to move into the quarter-finals, where he will face unseeded American Sam Querrey, who saw off French seventh seed Richard Gasquet 2-6 6-4 6-3.
When asked after the match if Murray could develop his game on clay, Djokovic said, "He needs to be more aggressive. To start working with Alex Corretja before the clay season is a good move. You can see that Andy is trying to mix it up and change the pace. I'm not super great on clay, I still feel the best on hard courts, but I have lofty ambitions and intentions in the major tournaments on clay."
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