Andy Murray's record on the surface may not be the best, but the world No.4 heads into his opening match of the Madrid Open later today insisting: "I love playing on clay".
Murray has won 16 ATP singles titles, but none of them have come on clay, where he has lost 23 of his 52 competitive matches.
That would suggest Murray, who has won 14 tournaments on hard court and one each on grass and carpet, is not a huge fan of the dirt, but the Scot is adamant that could not be further from the truth.
"I love playing on clay, I think it's one of my best surfaces even though my results haven't been as consistent," said Murray, who opened his clay-court season by reaching the semi-finals in Monte Carlo where, while hampered by an elbow problem, he lost in three sets to eventual winner Rafael Nadal.
The Scot's performance there followed three disappointing tournaments in Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami – where he failed to win a single set – having reached the Australian Open Final in January.
"I've played very few tournaments on clay compared to hard courts and indoors and I think if I played more on clay my results would be similar," Murray added. "It's a surface I need a bit of time to practice on, it's not a surface that comes naturally to me because it's not a surface that I play on in 10-and-a-half months of the year."
He went on: "But I like it, I think it suits my game well and I just have to be patient and work hard on it.
"I have to sort of accept that at the beginning of the clay-court season I may not be feeling my best, but that I can improve and by the French Open be playing good tennis, which I have done the last few years."
Having received a first-round bye, Murray's opening opponent in Madrid will be France's Gilles Simon, who beat Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) yesterday.
The Dunblane-born ace has won five of his six meetings with Simon, including in the 2008 Madrid final, which was played on a hard court, and also in Monte Carlo recently.
Simon said: "It's a tough draw but in the Masters Series it's hard, there are a lot of good players and Andy of course is one of them, one of the top guys and I expect a really hard match."
Murray and his brother Jamie suffered a first-round exit from the men's doubles after losing in straight sets to Spanish duo Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers.