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Haas and Ferrer reach Miami Masters semis

Tommy Haas consolidated the gains of an upset victory over Novak Djokovic with an emphatic performance over Gilles Simon to reach the last four of the Miami Masters Series event at Crandon Park. The German was in cruise control as he raced away to a 6-3, 6-1 victory, without facing a single break point in a breezy business meeting that lasted barely 65 minutes.

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 27:  Tommy Haas of Germany plays a match against Gilles Simon of France during Day 10 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Tommy Haas of Germany plays a shot against Gilles Simon of France during Day 10 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Getty Images)

David Ferrer was made to work hard before he could reach the semifinal stage of an ATP World Tour Master Series event for the 10th time in his career. The consistent Spaniard lost the first set against Austrian Jurgen Melzer, but recovered to complete a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory to become first man through to the last four of the Sony Open Tennis.

The evenly contested match between Haas and Simon came to life with a sudden turn of events in the eighth game of the first set. Haas created the first break point of the match with a forehand volley at 30-30 to push his opponent into the corner. The Frenchman sought to find a winner to survive the pivotal moment, but his backhand down the line sailed wide to leave him trailing 3-5. The world No. 18 then served out the set with another crisply executed forehand volley winner to move into the driver’s seat. Haas struck as many as 14 winners, claiming points on 9 of 11 forays to the net.

As if the wind had been stolen off his sails, Simon fell into a rut at the start of the second set. The 11th seed was barely able to find a first serve and Haas, in imperious form, made the most of his opponent’s misery to race away to a 4-0 lead. Even though Simon halted the decline by winning the fifth game, it was only temporary respite. The match was over in the seventh game, when a Simon forehand settled into the net. Haas converted 4 of 8 break opportunities, three of them in the second set, to coast into the semis of this event for the first time in thirteen attempts.

Fifth ranked Ferrer made early inroads in his match against Melzer – breaking serve in the second game when the Austrian followed up a double fault with an unforced error off the forehand. But serving for 3-0, Ferrer made errors off both flanks to concede the break immediately. Meanwhile Melzer’s forehand caught fire and a couple of winners helped the Austrian break Ferrer for a second time in the fifth game. The 42nd ranked Austrian went on to win five games in a row, but failed to serve out the set in eighth game. Melzer managed to eventually stave off two break points in the tenth game before clinching the set in 46 minutes.

In the second set, it was Ferrer again who struck the first blow. The Spaniard though ceded the advantage once again, when he failed to consolidate the break, allowing Melzer to bring the set back on serve at 2-3. However, Ferrer ensured this time that there would be no repeat of his forgettable efforts in the preceding set. He made amends immediately by breaking the Austrian for a second time in the set to take a 4-2 lead. Ferrer converted his third set point in the ninth game to restore parity and force the decider. The world No. 5 transformed into a far more assured version of himself as he broke Melzer thrice to hand him a bagel and reach the last four of this event for a third time.

KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 27:  David Ferrer of Spain reacts after winning a match against Jurgen Melzer of Austria during Day 10 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

David Ferrer of Spain reacts after beating Jurgen Melzer of Austria during Day 10 of the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 27, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Getty Images)

“I was a little bit nervous in the first set and part of the second,” admitted Ferrer. “But I tried to fight every point, to be focused and I had a good feeling in the final of the second set and of course in the third one.” The Spaniard is seeking to go one better over his efforts in 2005 (when he lost to Rafael Nadal) and 2006 (to Roger Federer) in the semifinals. Ferrer has a 2-0 career edge over Haas, but the two haven’t met since 2008. Meanwhile, Haas has found a second wind and is continuing to build on an impressive comeback that started blossoming with that sensational victory over Federer in Halle last year. 

The remaining quarterfinals will be played on Thursday. 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych will take on Richard Gasquet, while last year’s runner-up Andy Murray will seek to get past Marin Cilic in his quest for a second title in Key Biscayne.

Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez reached the men’s doubles semifinals, defeating Marin Cilic and Lukas Dlouhy 6-1, 7-5. The Spanish duo will take on Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer in a battle for a spot in the finals. Qureshi and Rojer were 7-6(6), 6-4 victors over Nicolas Almagro and Oliver Marach. In what is turning out to be a rich week, Haas also features in the doubles event. Haas and Xavier Malisse will take on Grigor Dimitrov and Frederik Nielsen in the second semifinals.

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