Miami Masters: Quarter-final preview
When two guys who share 43 ATP Masters 1000 titles between them are not in action in one such event, the opportunity for others to go one up or open the account, as the case may be, is as bright as they would hope for! The week’s action till R4 had been studded by routine victories; but the last of the R4 matches has turned the tables dramatically! A nearly 35-year-old Tommy Haas, who started his comeback with a win over World No.2 Roger Federer last year at Halle, added credence to his comeback tale by scripting a late night tactical march over the World No.1 Novak Djokovic rubbing him off 2 and 4!
Now, one among Simon/Ferrer/Haas/Melzer will be in the final! The last time Federer, Rafa & Djokovic were not in the locker room at this stage in a Masters event, Ferrer capitalised & scored his first triumph at this level in Bercy last year. Can he repeat the feat or will Murray be more than a mountain to climb? Those are questions for later rounds. For now, let us see the quarter-final line up.
David Ferrer vs. Jurgen Melzer
H2H: Ferrer 6 – 2 Melzer (1-1 on Hard Courts)
After suffering from a hot meltdown in a R4 Indian Wells defeat at the hands of the South African giant Kevin Anderson, Ferrer has come back to what he is known for – unperturbedly grinding his way against opponents and reaching the business ends of tournaments! After receiving a walkover against Tursunov, Ferrer has been clinical in brushing aside Fognini & Nishikori and is well-set for handling the Austrian lefty! For Melzer, it has been a nice comeback of sorts. His form over the week has been commendable, with hard fought wins over Berankis, del Potro slayer Kamke and Spain’s Ramos and an easier win over the seeded Marcel Granollers. The third Spanish player he is about to take on is in a different league though, and it would be a definite upset if Melzer can go past Ferrer.
Tommy Haas vs. Gilles Simon
H2H: Haas 4 – 1 Simon (2-1 on Hard Courts)
Let’s face it. After expected wins over Sijsling & Dolgopolov and an unexpected taming of Djokovic, Haas is going to be the overwhelming favourite in this match up. But Simon has had quite a year so far to let us rub this match off even before the toss. In pulling off an easy win over Hewitt in his first match, and in coming back from one-set down against a higher ranked, yet struggling, opponent in Tipsarevic, he has made quite a statement. This late-nighter could be a fine treat for fans, and don’t be surprised if the duo stretches this to 3 sets.
Richard Gasquet vs. Tomas Berdych
H2H: Gasquet 4 – 3 Berdych (3-2 on Hard Courts)
The H2H is definitely surprising, given the fact that Berdych is more powerful and has been more consistent in the recent years than the Frenchman. If their recent meeting at Indian Wells is anything to go by, Berdych should not have many problems in reaching yet another semi-final in a superb 2013 where he has churned off a W/L of 21-5 thus far. Going by recent form though, Berdych hasn’t had easy outings. He won in 3 against the Spanish Gimeno-Traver, before saving 2 match points in a thrilling win over Alejandro Falla, but in his 6-1, 6-1 ousting of the last American standing, Sam Querrey, he was ruthless! Gasquet, on the other hand, had easy outings initially against Rochus and Youzhny but his win over Almagro yesterday was tight and would surely have given him the confidence he would need to cause an upset against Berdych. Expect a humdinger if Gasquet is up for it!
Andy Murray vs. Marin Cilic
H2H: Murray 7 – 1 Cilic (4-1 on Hard Courts)
Andy Murray is the highest ranked player left in the draw, and he has been without a ‘big’ title since his remarkable triumph at the US Open last year. For this reason and for the fact that a title here would mean a No.2 rank, Murray would be determined to see off Cilic’s challenge as quickly and as efficiently as he possibly can. In defeating the pretending prodigies in Tomic and Dimitrov, Murray showed his game is in good shape and the comfortable win over Seppi yesterday further proves his point. Cilic, after a win over Giraldo, got past two formidable forces in John Isner and Jo Tsonga. If he can muster enough positives from his solid showing against Tsonga, turning the clock back to his USO win over Murray in 2009 is not beyond possibility. The Croat definitely has the potential; but for that to happen, Murray must have a horrible day and from what he has shown this week, it is quite unlikely.
I go with predicting a semi-finals line-up that would read: Ferrer vs Haas and Murray vs Berdych. Having said that, I am expecting at least 3 of the 4 quarter-finals to go the distance! Bring it on!