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Monte Carlo Masters: Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie crash out

There was nothing to celebrate for two of Britain's best on Monday as both Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie crashed out of the Monte Carlo Masters at the earliest opportunity.

Murray was below par and soundly beaten by Alex de Minaur, and he looked well out of touch during his first match on clay in 2023. 

Norrie did not fare much better, falling short against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo at the iconic Mediterranean venue. 

Both players had hoped to progress into the latter stages of the competition in preparation for the upcoming French Open, which gets underway in May.

Murray has plenty to work on

Scotland's Murray never got going on Monday, and looked rusty and out of sorts from the very first serve. 

The former world number one hit an incredible 26 unforced errors on Court Rainier III. 

The 35-year-old, who is now 57th in the world rankings, was ultimately well beaten by the Australian 14th seed, losing 6-1 6-3, and his lack of consistency at the highest level was on show throughout their match on the Monaco clay. 

Murray was never expected to go all the way this week, particularly as he was playing on the Monaco clay for the first time since 2017, but the manner of his defeat only showcased how much work he still has to do to be able to compete against the best at the French Open. 

De Minaur, who reeled off the first four games to win the opening set in just 35 minutes, will now face Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round. 

Murray has yet to confirm where he will play next, but it could be as early as next week in Barcelona or Munich. 

The next Masters 1000 event takes place in Madrid in two weeks' time, and Murray will no doubt be desperate to bounce back at the earliest opportunity.

Norrie slump continues

Despite having the superior world ranking, Norrie was unable to assert his quality over Cerundolo as he lost 6-3 6-4 on Monday. 

Like Murray, Norrie looked unsettled from the start, making 18 unforced errors on his way to a disappointing defeat. 

In a lacklustre display, he only managed to hit eight winners, and handed Cerundolo the decisive advantage in the ninth game of the second set when he found the net with a forehand. 

Norrie's superb start to the season, 21 wins from 25 matches, is now seemingly a distant memory as he was always dumped out in the first round of the Miami Open last month. 

It was not all bad news, though, for Britain on Monday, as Jack Draper marked his return from injury with a victory. 

The 21-year-old battled past Argentina's Sebastian Baez, prevailing 6-3 7-5, although he faces a tough second-round clash against 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Draper retired from his fourth-round match against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells last month due to an abdominal injury before withdrawing from the Miami Open. 

He looked fit and firing, though, on Monday, and saved 11 of the 12 break points he faced. 

Draper is 6/5 to emerge from his second-round contest, while Hurkacz is priced at 4/6 in the To Win Match market.

Wawrinka rolls back the years

The 2014 champion, Stan Wawrinka, showed plenty of heart during his first-round match at the Monte Carlo Masters, as he came from a set down to beat Tallon Griekspoor. 

The Swiss ace, now 38 years old, earned his 22nd victory at the ATP Masters 1000 event, after hitting 35 winners in a mammoth tie on the clay. 

After an intense battle, Wawrinka prevailed 5-7 6-3 6-4 to reach the second round, where he will face the eighth seed, Taylor Fritz. 

Fritz is 1/2 to book his place in the third round, while those that fancy Wawrinka to progress can back him at 13/8.

As the odds would suggest, the three-time Grand Slam champion is expecting a tough afternoon at the office. 

"He is an amazing player," Wawrinka told the ATP Tour. "He is Top 10, been winning a lot of matches. Winning a lot of tournaments. He is very dangerous on many surfaces."

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