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Ferrer and Murray scramble through to the Miami Masters finals

Anand Datla
822   //    30 Mar 2013, 10:32 IST

As seasoned invaders, they had threatened to usurp the men in the citadel but fell just short of their promise.

Andy Murray lost a tight first set, before taking control of proceedings to clinch a 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-2 victory in a shade over two hours and book his spot in the finals of the Sony Open for the second straight year. Waiting for the Scot in the finals was David Ferrer, who was outplayed by Tommy Haas in the early stages of the first semifinal. But the Spaniard wore out the German veteran by running him along the baseline before taking a well earned 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 passage into the finals of Miami Masters in Key Biscayne.

David Ferrer of Spain celebrates match point against Tommy Haas of Germany during the semifinals of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

David Ferrer celebrates after beating Tommy Haas in the semifinals of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Getty Images)

Ferrer was struggling early on with his forehand and he paid the price in the fifth game. The Spaniard three unforced errors off his forehand to be broken at love. Ferrer dug himself deeper into the trench in the seventh game when he made two more errors off the same side to surrender a second break. Haas was serving for the set at 5-2 when he suffered a sudden stutter – the German over-hit a couple of backhands from 15-30 to provide a brief respite to the scrambling Ferrer. But he squashed any hopes that Ferrer might have harboured by serving out the set at love. It was a patchy start from the Spaniard who sprayed 18 unforced errors as he dropped the first set in 39 minutes.

Ferrer displayed signs of springing back to life with a hold at love in the third game of the second set. But Haas held his own, surviving a deuce point in the next game to leave the second set evenly poised at 2-2. The match took an unexpected turn when Haas double faulted in the sixth game before handing the break with an overcooked forehand cross court that sailed wide. Even as the quality of his game dipped, Haas suffered a fatal blow when another untimely double fault followed by a flailing backhand handed the second set to Ferrer.

Haas responded immediately to break Ferrer in the first game of the third set with the help of a backhand down the line winner, but failed to take advantage. Haas was already struggling with his serve and Ferrer made him pay by breaking back immediately to repair the damage suffered in the first game. But the resilient Haas struck again, to take advantage of a double fault from Ferrer in the third game before holding serve to take a 3-1 lead in the decider. Unfortunately though, Haas ran out of legs and Ferrer persisted enough to clinch his place in the finals taking the next five games.

“I tried to fight every point, I knew Tommy, in the third set, he was a little bit more tired than me.” said Ferrer. “I am in the final. I am very happy for that. I will try to do my best to win on Sunday. It’s going to be very difficult. I think to win a Masters 1000, I need to play my best tennis.” Ferrer will move to number four, replacing Rafael Nadal, when the new rankings are released on Monday.

In the other match, Gasquet used his backhand to telling effect to control the rallies and take a 3-0 lead. But a lose service game in the fifth undid the good work as Murray clinched the break with a rasping forehand down the line winner. The set was back on even tersm when Murray smacked three aces to reach 3-3. Gasquet survived two double faults in the seventh game to hold serve, but could not prevent Murray from taking charge again when he was broken again in the ninth when the Scot found the sweet spot twice off his forehand to take a 5-4 lead. Serving for the set, Murray stumbled badly when he sent a forehand long before throwing in a double fault to squander the opportunity. Gasquet snatched the breaker, courtesy of a couple of backhand errors from Murray to take the lead.

Having narrowly lost the set, Murray made a few adjustments in the second set. Attacking the Gasquet forehand and charging to the net the Scot altered the dynamic to unsettle the volatile Frenchman. The result was a lopsided second set where Murray won five straight games to bring the match into a decider with some commanding tennis in just 28 minutes. Riding the momentum, Murray won the first game of the third set when the rattled Gasquet made three unforced to surrender the break. But Murray failed to capitalise, gifting back the break with a double fault. The undulating match took a decisive turn in the third game, when Murray took advantage of a couple of double faults from Gasquet to earn another break.

Andy Murray of Great Britain throws his wrist bands to the crowd  after his three set victory against Richard Gasquet of France during their semi final match at the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Andy Murray throws his wrist bands to the crowd after his three set semifinal victory against Richard Gasquet at the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Getty Images)


Murray stepped on the accelerator in the seventh game and Gasquet obliged the Scot by making a couple of unseemly forehand errors to surrender another break. The world No. 3 then set up match point in the eighth game with a crisply struck forehand cross court winner before clinching the match with a service winner. It was a fantastic turnaround from the Scot who stumbled in the early phase of the match. Murray had 35 winners and won 11 of 14 points as he took 12 of the last 15 games for an authoritative victory.

“The first set was a tough one to lose, because I obviously served for the set. Then at the end of the set, you look up at the stats and I had hit over 20 winners and lost the set,” said the Scot. “So I realized I had to cut out the unforced errors. I did a good job of that. Halfway through the second set, I started to find the right way to play and the right shots to go for. I did well after that.”

Murray has a 6-5 edge over Ferrer in career meetings, but the Spaniard has managed to win two of their last three meetings. Sunday will mark the fifth Master Series final for Ferrer, who has just the one title he won in Paris last year. Murray has an impressive 8-3 record in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and a win in his 12th final at this level could catapult him past Roger Federer in the rankings.

The men’s doubles final will be played on Saturday immediately after the women’s final between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams.  The match will be contested between the 5th seeded Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer who take on the 8th seeded Polish duo of  Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. In the women’s doubles final, to be played on Sunday along with the men’s final – Laura Robson and Lisa Raymond will take on Nadia Petrova and Katerina Srebotnik.

Men’s Final (Sunday)

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) v [3] David Ferrer (ESP)

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Anand Datla
Sport and character are the cornerstone of life. A middle aged writer with a child like love and passion for sport and its bottomless treasure of tales.
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