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Murray wins opener in Rome, extends clay record to 10-0

ROME (AP) — Andy Murray improved his record on clay this year to 10-0 with a 6-4, 6-3 win over 38th-ranked Jeremy Chardy on Wednesday at the Italian Open.

The third-seeded Murray had considered withdrawing at the Foro Italico because of fatigue after his perfect start to the clay-court season, but his game showed no signs of wear.

“My legs were a bit tired at the beginning then I started to feel better after the first few games. I felt like I played a really great match,” said Murray, who committed only 10 unforced errors to Chardy’s 26. “I moved well and made it difficult for him to get free points.”

Seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal was also sharp in a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan.

In women’s play, second-seeded Simona Halep beat Alison Riske of the United States 6-3, 6-0, Russian qualifier Daria Gavrilova eliminated seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7), and Serbian qualifier Bojana Jovanovski defeated 15th-seeded Madison Keys 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

In the past two weeks, Murray won his first clay title at the Munich Open, and then beat Nadal in Sunday’s Madrid Open final for his first Masters trophy on the surface.

Murray has never been past the semifinals in Rome and is looking to peak at the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks.

“It’s not impossible,” Murray said of his chances of reaching the final or winning at Roland Garros. “Whereas maybe the last few years even though I played some good tennis in Paris I didn’t feel like I was maybe healthy enough, or played enough matches or had enough big wins against top players to believe I could do it.

“Maybe this year will be different,” Murray added. “I think there’s a chance. If I play well then I know I have the chance to go far in the tournament.”

Nadal was never really tested against the 87th-ranked Ilhan, who he faced for the first time.

After dropping out of the top five in the rankings this week for the first time in 10 years, Nadal will next meet 16th-seeded John Isner, who served 11 aces in a 7-6 (6), 6-4 win over Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.

Also, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain beat Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-3.

Later, Roger Federer was to play Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.

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Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf

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