Murray eases through in Monte Carlo

By Gregory Blachier

MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - World number four Andy Murray enjoyed a confident start to his claycourt season when he thrashed Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-0 6-3 on Tuesday to book a place in the Monte Carlo Masters third round.

The Scot, who reached the semi-finals here last year, broke serve in the first game and never looked back, wrapping up a straightforward victory after 67 minutes when Troicki sent a backhand wide.

"It was very good, getting off to a good start in the match," Murray told a news conference.

Third seed Murray, who received a first-round bye, looked in fine form as he unsettled Troicki with some exquisite drop shots and played his usual tight defensive game to deny his opponent any chance to come back.

"I moved well. I was sliding pretty well on the court. Normally that's the thing that takes time to get used to... For me that's a good sign on the clay, whether I'm playing well or not," the Briton said.

Troicki took only five points on Murray's serve and never threatened the Scot who will take on Frenchman Julien Benneteau or Austrian 15th seed Juergen Melzer for a place in the quarter-finals.

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, the 13th seed and 2010 finalist, battled past Croatia's Ivan Dodig 3-6 6-3 6-1 to set up a third-round clash with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the fourth seed.

Tsonga pleased the crowd, who sang in celebration of his 27th birthday after he defeated German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2 6-4.

"Verdasco is far from being a present," Tsonga said.

"But on the other hand, it's a gift because I'm going to confront one of the best players on clay court.

"It's always good to play against the top players on clay because you can get used to the high quality of their game and you will not be surprised when you play them in major events."

German Florian Mayer, the 14th seed, made a first-round exit after a 3-6 6-1 6-3 defeat by Kazakhstani qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin and 10th seed Feliciano Lopez succumbed to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1 6-4.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)