Murray, Gasquet complete Miami Masters semifinal lineup
Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet completed the last four ahead of a promising weekend of action at Crandon Park with straight set victories over their respective opponents. The Scot was tested in the early stages of his match against Marin Cilic, but Murray improved as the match progressed to clinch a convincing 6-4, 6-3 victory in an hour and 42 minutes. Later in the day, Richard Gasquet lit up the Stadium Court with an explosive 6-3, 6-3 victory over Tomas Berdych to reach the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Master Series event.
The 25-year-old squandered four opportunities to break serve in the very first game, before Cilic managed to somehow take the game when a backhand from Murray landed outside the court. The Scot then made two more unforced errors at 30-30 in the second game to hand the Croat a 2-0 lead. That started a sequence of four straight breaks of serve as the two men battled to take control of the match. Eventually, it was Murray who held serve in the sixth game despite still struggling with his first serve to draw even at 3-3.
The set swung Murray’s way in the ninth game when Cilic threw in consecutive double faults and followed up with a couple of loose forehand errors to surrender the break. Murray clinched the first set at the first opportunity with a service winner that stretched Cilic and compromised his ability to control the return. The Croat committed as many as 18 unforced errors and Murray needed just nine winners to jump into the lead after 45 minutes of error strewn tennis.
Cilic made four more errors off his misbehaving forehand to hand Murray the break to begin the second set. The Scot consolidated with a couple of aces as the match started drifting away for the Croat. Cilic had opportunities to break back in the fourth game – easily the best of the match – but Murray put on a determined fight to stave off seven deuces and four break points to take the marathon 20 point game for a 3-1 lead.
After being broken again in the seventh game, Cilic prevented Murray from serving out the match by saving a match point before recovering a break to stay within striking distance at 3-5. Serving to stay in the match, Cilic fell to 15-40 but fought stoically to save five more match points before eventually succumbing to the considerably superior retrieving skills of his opponent after yet another prolonged game that went to four deuces before Murray converted at the seventh time of asking.
“I came back well from the setbacks and used good variation to keep him off-balance,” averred Murray. “It was a tough match, it was hot and we had some long points, long games, and I’m glad I came through in two sets,” referring to that fourth game which lasted more than 15 minutes.
In the other quarterfinal, Gasquet saved both the break points he faced and converted three out of four on the Berdych serve in a commanding performance to reach the semifinals of a Masters Series event for the seventh time in his career. The world No. 10 faced a couple of break points in the sixth game of the first set, but bailed himself out of trouble with a big service winner each time. He then turned tables on his Czech opponent, when he took advantage of a double fault and a forehand error to break serve and take a 4-3 lead. An aesthetically pleasing forehand return winner set up three set points at 0-40 in the ninth game, and Berdych surrendered the break and set with another forehand error.
Gasquet entrenched himself firmly in control of the match, when he struck a scorching forehand cross court winner to break serve in the second game of the next set. Berdych made one final impression on the contest, when he held serve with three aces in the eighth game but it was a case of too little too late. Gasquet responded with an ace of his own to set up match points before clinching a spot in the last four with a service winner. It was an impressive showing from the Frenchman who won seven games in a row at one stage during the match – from 2-3 in the first set to 3-0 in the second – as he improved his record over Berdych to 5-3. Gasquet made up for his 10 unforced errors with 17 winners to dominate the world No. 6 from midway through the first set.
“I’m really happy with the way I played,” said Gasquet. “It was a good match for me. And I think I was solid mentally. I was playing very good. It’s an important match for me.” Murray has a 4-3 record against Gasquet, and a victory on Saturday can help the Scot reach one more step closer to usurping the world No. 2 ranking from Roger Federer, who skipped Miami for a family vacation with his wife and twin daughters.
In the doubles event, fifth seeded Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer upset the second seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3, 6-2 to reach the finals of the Sony Open. Qureshi and Rojer await the winners of the match between Grigor Dimitrov and Frederik Nielsen and the eighth-seeded pairing of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. Friday’s card features the men’s singles semifinals sandwiched between the two women’s doubles semi-finals on the Stadium Court at Crandon Park.
 Tommy Haas (GER) v  David Ferrer (ESP)
 Richard Gasquet (FRA) v  Andy Murray (GBR)