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Miami Masters 2013 Men's semifinals preview: at the cusp of glory

It’s all happening out there at Miami. The action’s only getting hotter as the tournament draws to a close, heightening the already palpable excitement. Though many argued about the attraction of the tournament once Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had opted out of it, for fans obsessed with the game, Miami Masters hasn’t disappointed at all. Au contraire, with unexpected twists and turns, the tournament brought forward innumerable surprises, and not all of them unwelcome.

With the stage being set for the semifinals and the way the tournament has unfolded till now, a couple more of these surprises won’t be ‘surprising’, though they’ll definitely add on to the 2013 Miami Masters’ overall USP.

Semi-Final One:

Tommy Haas versus David Ferrer

Tommy Haas of Germany acknowledges the crowd after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 26, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Tommy Haas of Germany acknowledges the crowd after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 26, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Getty Images)

The 34-year-old German has been the talk of the tournament and more so, after his shock upset of the world no. 1, Novak Djokovic. He has been in sublime form throughout and has not really been tested much; except for his second-round match against Dutchman Igor Sisjling, his road to the semifinals has been pretty much smooth sailing.

Haas’ opponent on the other hand, has rebounded well from his unexpected upset in the second round at Indian Wells and has so far, made the most at the sun-kissed and rain-interspersed tournament. Just like Haas, David Ferrer too has had a pretty sedate run-up to the semifinals, though as the last Spaniard left in the fray, Ferrer would be gearing up to make his presence last till the very end.

A match-up between two completely contrasting playing styles, the Haas-Ferrer match is all about two ageing bedrocks of tennis. Where circumstances forced the former to take a backseat from the sport, his return marked his triumph over all his adversities. As regards the latter, he was and still remains a player to watch out for – the one who can spring a surprise, if the opponent is caught unawares.

Ferrer leads Haas in their head-to-head 2-0, but going by Haas’ recent form, one can definitely expect high quality action from both players.

Prediction: Tommy Haas defeats David Ferrer in three sets.

Semi-final Two:

Richard Gasquet versus Andy Murray

 Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates after winning a quarterfinal match against Marin Cilic of Croatia during the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 28, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates after winning a quarterfinal match against Marin Cilic of Croatia during the Sony Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 28, 2013 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Getty Images)

Once predicted to be one of France’s brightest tennis stars, Richard Gasquet seemed to have lost his way ever so slightly in the past few years. But slowly yet painstakingly, Gasquet has managed to get back into the hallowed hallways of the sport. He’s not what he was before, but the years have only added a different kind of maturity to Gasquet’s game. Knocking off Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, Gasquet finds himself yet again within close reach of notching his first-ever Masters title. The only one standing in his way: in-form Andy Murray.

The Scot’s progress into the semifinals was an expected trajectory, and his straight-set victory over Croat Marin Cilic. Given the fact that Murray has a lot to lose – or a lot to gain, if seen optimistically – if he wins the title on Sunday, his return to the semifinals fold is beyond promising. A runner-up last year, Murray’s chances at Miami have so far only been restricted to being the finalist rather than the victor. As he takes on Richard Gasquet in the semis, Murray would be looking to wash away this small hiccup in his otherwise dazzling Masters resume.

As compared to the first semifinal, the second one (an evening session match) points towards a straight-forward outcome, unless  Gasquet comes up with enough defiance to bowl Murray over. On paper, Murray leads the Frenchman 4-3, though in the past few days, head-to-heads have been swept aside, as if nothing but mere conveniences.

Prediction: Andy Murray defeats Richard Gasquet in straight-sets.

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