Andy Murray, the world no. 1 and one of the Big Four members reached the 30 years of age milestone today. But, it's not all about celebration as he is set to take another shot on clay by entering the last Masters 1000 on clay of this season. Rome is the host of another clay court spectacle having Andy Murray as the no. 1 seed. Although the current season is approaching its mid-term mark, Murray's top form is yet to emerge at the surface. So far, it's been more like a bumpy road paved with questionable results. A sole title won in Dubai back in February is not enough for a player who is ranked as the world no.


The clay court swing deepened the doubt

It's extraordinary how in a matter of months, Murray and Djokovic have lost their tremendous pace. The clay swing is the proper surface to make a comparison. Back in 2016, except for Barcelona and Monte-Carlo where Nadal left his mark, the clay session was all about Murray and Djokovic. A year later, they are both far from their peak as they're struggling to regain momentum. After a titanic second part of 2016 when he closed the gap on Djokovic, Murray found himself on different ground. Reaching the world no. 1 spot for the very first time in his career, Murray got himself into a new position. And it seems that he is unable to match the expectations.

The clay court swing of 2017 had Murray competing in three places but each time being sent away by low ranked players. In Monte-Carlo, it was Albert Ramos-Vinolas standing as an impenetrable wall against the world no. 1. Then, it was Dominic Thiem who gave Murray a hard time in Barcelona and finally a young ATP rising star Borna Coric put Murray to the sideline in Madrid.

Now, as the French Open is right around the corner, Murray will travel to Rome in order to defend his title. It's going to be a tough task given the circumstances but Murray is that type of player that can produce greatness on a daily basis.

Fabio Fognini will ask the first question

A top seed in Rome, Murray received a bye for the opening round.

He was put in the upper half of the board sharing the battlefield with Wawrinka, Raonic, Berdych, Cilic, Zverev and other glory seekers. He will start defending his title against one of the most dangerous unseeded players. Fabio Fognini will put Murray in front of a hard test as the Italian will benefit from the home crowd support. Moreover, Fognini was the only one capable of stealing a set away from Rafael Nadal in last week's battle of Madrid. The head to head stats have Murray leading by 3-2 overall but the Italian ranked 29th in the world has the skills to push his next opponent to the edge.