Murray, Ferrer The Favorites, But Will The March Madness Continue? Miami SF Picks And Pans
by Sean Randall | March 29th, 2013, 12:33 pm
  • 82 Comments

If you had Richard Gasquet and Tommy Haas in your Miami SF bracket give yourself a very large pat on the back, because I doubt anyone on this planet did. After years and years of status quo at the top events – like the Miami Tennis Masters – we finally got a draw that didn’t go to form. That means no Novak Djokovic, no Juan Martin Del Potro and of course no Rafael Nadal/Roger Federer, neither of whom entered the event run by their former management company.

Andy Murray is there as is David Ferrer, but one-handed wizards Gasquet and Haas join in as longshot Cinderellas. And it’s somewhat refreshing.

Haas, who routinely dismantled a slumping(?) Novak Djokovic Tuesday night, is a former No. 2 and a player who I think deserves a better hand than the one he’s been dealt. Haas has suffered through an injury-riddled career yet now just days from turning 35 he’s still ticking and perhaps because of all that missed time he’s fresher than most would be at his age.

Gasquet might also be a late bloomer. “Baby Fed” was his nickname on this site years ago and fittingly so. But he’s never lived up to the billing. The 26-year-old is arguably the most talented player to have never even been to a Slam final. In fact, he’s only been to the quarterfinals ONCE in his Grand Slam career, and he’s never won a Masters title. But like a tease the Frenchman looked darn good last night in a walkthrough over Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3.

So can these two relative bracket busters continue their run? On to my picks.

Tommy Haas vs. David Ferrer
For two guys in their 30s (both celebrate birthdays next week), this will be just their third career meeting. Ferrer has won both but there’s not much to derive from those matches as their most recent clash was way back in 2008 Dubai and the other at 2005 Paris. A long time ago.

Haas is clearly the hot player here. Beating Djokovic and then backing it up with an equally impressive won over Gilles Simon. Since his first match of the tournament, the German hasn’t even faced a set point. But Ferrer will make Tommy work hard, very hard. And David’s now into his third semifinal in Miami.

“It’s incredible what he’s done the last year,” said Haas on Wednesday. “It’s going to be a great challenge. I haven’t played him in a long time, so I’m looking forward to it.”

With three of the Big Four not around, this is another opportunity for Ferrer, and probably his last one to get a title like Miami. Maybe feeling that pressure, Ferrer stumbled a bit early against Jurgen Melzer yesterday. In his path, he didn’t really beat anyone of signifigance – Fognini? Nishikori? Still, we know Ferrer will give it all he can. But Haas, who trains in nearby Bradenton, will have the crowd with him, the weaponry and above all the momentum.

If Haas plays like he’s been playing and he’s not wiped out from all the tennis he’s played, he should win.
The pick: Haas in two

Richard Gasquet vs. Andy Murray
In the night match, it’s no surprise to see Andy Murray make the final four, but what an event for Gasquet. The Frenchman’s collected three pretty good wins – Youzhny, Almagro and Berdych – and he’s playing his best tennis in a long time.

Murray, meanwhile, has been slogging through, as usual. His win over Marin Cilic was completely forgettable (I lost count of how many service breaks) and even though he hasn’t dropped a set yet it’s hard to say Murray is playing inspired tennis this week. But he’ll need to today against a very sharp Gasquet.

These two have played seven times before and Gasquet has won three of them, but two remarkable chokes cost him additional victories (Wimbledon, French Open). And Gasquet is 2-0 against Murray on hardcourts.

“For sure, I know I can win against Andy,” Gasquet said. “He’s No. 3 in the world. But I know his game. I know how he plays. I play so many times against him. We did great matches in the past. I will do my best to win him. And for sure I have nothing to lose, and I can go on the court to play aggressive and try to win.”

Murray, though, is the US Open champion. He lives in Miami. He’s won this title before and he’s proven he can win these big time matches. And like Ferrer, with the top guys not around, what an opportunity. Gasquet? The talent, the game are there, but what about the consistency to win these kinds of matches? I haven’t seen it. Richard will keep it close….
The pick: Murray in three

ESPN2 concludes its live coverage today with both semifinals. CBS will have the finals this weekend.

FRIDAY MIAMI SCHEDULE

STADIUM start 12:45 pm
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] L Raymond (USA) / L Robson (GBR) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[15] T Haas (GER) vs [3] D Ferrer (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[8] R Gasquet (FRA) vs [2] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs [WC] S Kuznetsova (RUS) / F Pennetta (ITA) – WTA

COURT 1 start 4:00 PM

Not Before 4:00 PM
G Dimitrov (BUL) / F Nielsen (DEN) vs [8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP


Also Check Out:
Federer Rules; Replay on Deck
Stop the Madness
Noah Part of March Madness
Djokovic v Murray, Federer v Nishikori; Wednesday Miami QF Picks And Pans
Federer, Roddick Awarded Favorable Draws in Miami

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82 Comments for Murray, Ferrer The Favorites, But Will The March Madness Continue? Miami SF Picks And Pans

RZ Says:

With the Paris Masters last year, where Fed and Rafa didn’t show up and Andy and Nole lost early, I thought of that tournament as an aberration. Now I’m thinking that the Miami tournament is the early signal of the slow decline of the Big 4′s dominance. I still expect that they will be the main challengers and winners for all the Grand Slams and Masters titles in the coming years; but with Fed and Rafa likely to be playing more limited schedules, and with Nole a step below his 2011 best, I think we’ll see more variation in the semis of upcoming tournaments.


Sean Randall Says:

RZ, with Federer on the downslope it’s hard to see many future Big Four semifinals. So someone will be taking Roger’s place.

I do still see Murray, Novak and based on what we saw earlier this month, Nadal, in the mix.

When all Four do play I’d be stunned not to see at least two reach the SFs for the remainder of this year.


Adam Says:

Well Sean’s made his picks. We’re pretty much guaranteed a Ferrer v Gasquet final now ;o)


the DA Says:

Wow! Waiting for the Haas/Ferrer match and I saw that Lisa Raymond and Laura Robson are into the doubles final after a 61 62 demolishing of world No. 1s Erran-Vinci. Hopefully this confidence will spill over into her singles play.


RZ Says:

DA, I hope so too!


the DA Says:

Regarding the Haas pick, I’d agree if it was a night match where the balls stay low. But already I can see how high they’re bouncing and I think that favors Ferrer. If Haas continues with his aggression and ending points quickly at the net I give him a chance. Otherwise Daveed is going to run him side to side until he runs out of gas.


the DA Says:

haha..no sooner than I type the above Haas breaks.


skeezer Says:

Haas breaks already..wow.


skeezer Says:

Have to say, Haas is a physical specimen for Tennis. Legs and Abs are cut for Tennis, even at his age.


Margot Says:

Oh no, not the Seany jinx again….*runs into a dark cupboard and shuts door sobbing quietly*
Luckily won’t be able to watch…;)
Tommy on a mission, I see.


the DA Says:

Ferrer spraying errors and DFs left and right.


skeezer Says:

Tommy playing like a madman, lol


the DA Says:

@ skeezer – sounds a lot like a man crush going on there ;)

Haas gets the 2nd break. That one was earned with some great play, Ferrer gifted the 1st. All credit to Tommy but Ferrer is a little off. Good news for the over 30′s in any case.


the DA Says:

Haas takes the 1st set. Go Tommy!


skeezer Says:

Haas closes out the first. Daveed is picking it up though. 2nd should be interesting…..


the DA Says:

You sensed it was coming, Ferrer breaks. Tommy’s serve and level dropped, Daveed slowly raising his.


skeezer Says:

Haas has either physically or mentally out of gas. He has had a great run. Will he get a second win in the 3rd or is he done? Daveed is just playing his normal stuff atm….


skeezer Says:

^second wind


the DA Says:

Haas looks a little fatigued, footwork not as good as in the 1st set. It’s true, Daveed just needing to go through the motions. Here’s hoping for second winds.


skeezer Says:

Early Hass break ;)


the DA Says:

Ask and ye shall receive: not only a 2nd wind but a sirocco arrives. Haas breaks n the 1st game.


the DA Says:

Tommy starting to get testy, loses focus and the break.


skeezer Says:

Hass re-re-break, lol


skeezer Says:

Sorry, H-A-A-S


skeezer Says:

@the DA

So are you expecting Murray in 2 or 3 tonight?


the DA Says:

@ skeezer – you forget I’m a Murray fan. I’m not expecting anything.


skeezer Says:

^Oh yes…but of course ;)

Congrats to little Daveed, the little engine that could.

Haas, great fun, nice game to watch.


andrea Says:

i hope gasquet wins the SF. he’s got a nice game to watch. love the backhand.


the DA Says:

Oh well, it was a great run. Ferrer just kept getting better as Haas lost focus. Haas should take a lot of positives from this going forward. I definitely won’t get the dream final I wanted now :(


skeezer Says:

There is nothing more aesthetically pleasing to the eye in Tennis than the stroke of the Single Handed Backhand.

(Unless your a Rafa fan of course)


jane Says:

Personally I love a beautiful lob and/or a crosscourt, sharply angled, running forehand. Some one handed backhands are lovely. Sometimes I find the body too arched looking, though, and the ball can sometimes land short. Gasquet’s is outrageous to behold. :)


Giles Says:

I luv it when Rafa breaks down Fed’s one- handed backhand. That is a sight to behold!! Hahaha. #VamosKing


Kimberly Says:

Good game finally a competitive match after blowout thursday


Margot Says:

Oh no, the Seany curse strikes again….we’re doomed, doomed…
Poor Tommy, age catches him up….after all David is ONLY 31…;)


skeezer Says:

“…..I luv it when Rafa….”

a-n-d right on cue.


bada bing Says:

I am hoping for a Gasquet/Ferrer final with Gasquet winning one, finally!


Rick Says:

Sean! You suck, whenever you talk. You jinx, then you ran away for awhile. lol


the DA Says:

tsk, Andy playing continually to Gasquet’s BH and paying the price. Dufus.


El Flaco Says:

103 mph backhand winner by Gasquet. Never seen a backhand hit that hard ever.


skeezer Says:

Murrays serve starting to click. If he serves this well throughout, he’ll win.


the DA Says:

^ yep, I think so. It’s gone up to 78% – a good number.


the DA Says:

Break! Andy finally playing aggressively, getting into a nice groove.


skeezer Says:

Murray is also proving ( not that he needs to ) that his Forehand is formidable.


skeezer Says:

ok…no more praises for Murray, I think we jinxed him.


the DA Says:

hehe..commentators curse. DF-itis seems to have creeped into the ATP from the WTA.


Wog boy Says:

What a hands, what a volleying by Gasquet, wow!!


the DA Says:

Not looking good for Muzza.


Wog boy Says:

Even he lost first set I am still leaning towards Andy winning the match.


the DA Says:

A courtside reporter overhead Richard saying he tweaked his ankle. Expect drop shots.


the DA Says:

Some stunning tennis right now.


skeezer Says:

Murray looking simply bigger stronger on he court right now. I pity Ferrer if he has to play Murray. Murray may or may not win, but with his fitness regime and Lendl he has made the right moves to move up…


the DA Says:

Andy takes the 2nd set relatively easily in the end. Strange that Gasquet didn’t even move for that last serve. Hope his ankle isn’t becoming a factor, this match deserves an exciting conclusion.


the DA Says:

Richard calls the trainer. Whatever happens, I’m pleased to see Andy finally play better than he has in 2 weeks.


skeezer Says:

On a side note: seeing Gas K getting foot attention on the changeover reminds me Tennis players have the ugliest Toes in the world. If you play tennis, you know what I mean….

And if you want to date one, give them a pass on there feet.

And if your a Lady Tennis Player you are admired by the men. At least you get to paint your toenails…..


the DA Says:

Ugh!


skeezer Says:

talkabout droppin your head when serving. C’mon Andy! Cough.

Wow.. the wounded warrior turns it around ( thanks to some coughing moments from Andy ). I would still pound it to Gas-K FH, especially when three is a slight opening.


the DA Says:

DF & break city.


skeezer Says:

…and there ya go


the DA Says:

Double break! This should be it but who knows?


skeezer Says:

This will be Andy’s 3rd Miami final.
Andy’s game is still so very young and raw, and yet you can see he’s got game. He just needs to bring all that skill/talent into being consistent at it. He has the potential imho to improve the most out of the top 4 looking into the future. Will he? C’mon Lendl!


skeezer Says:

Congrats DA,

Margot & jane you can come out now….;)


the DA Says:

Well done Muzzah! Now get those 400 points on Sunday. I (mostly) enjoyed that.


Colin Says:

What a strange match, In the intervals of playing brilliant tennis, both men did their best to lose. Still, at least ol’ Sean got the score right!
A lob may not be the most elegant of tennis shots, but Andy turns it into an art form.

By the way, anyone remember Milton Reed, the Hammer Films resident fat bad guy? He also appeared in one of the Bond movies, the first one with Richard “Jaws” Kiel, I think. Anyway, one of the line judges at Miami looks just like him.


Kimmi Says:

great run for both rishaard and haas. the better players won today. this tournament is for muzza taking.


jane Says:

Just when we thought the “order” of things might be upset, it’s restored. The 2 highest seeds left in the draw prevail! I hope Andy wins but I wouldn’t be upset if Ferrer wins another Masters.


JF Says:

Ferrer all the way! He deserves a bit more, in my opinion.


Steve 27 Says:

Murray the second sport is yours.


Steve 27 Says:

spot, I mean.


Humble Rafa Says:

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the President of the Injury Club enters the top 10, and the Arrogant One drops out.

Some people’s ego will be hurt. Can’t wait for the real tennis season to begin. Need whoop some behinds soon. My breadstick and bagel shop is about to open soon.


skeezer Says:

^Old


Margot Says:

Didn’t watch match but just heard score and it sounded bizarre. If Crashquet injured explains it, shame.
@ skeeze 9.08pm
Lovely comments about Andy, thanx :) Do hope he can actually come of tennis age, but 26 this year so he better get his skates on.


Michael Says:

I will go with Sean picks and may be this time atleast he has got it bang on. Haas should win against Ferrer, no issues over there and Murray should also roll over Gasquet. What a line up for the Semis which nobody would have ever imagined. I thought Berdych would have a good chance considering that he is a nemesis for Andy as can be seen from their H2H. But he had shoulder problems and that got the better of him. Now, I want Haas to lift this title. Having come so far, he should not falter. This is his only chance and he should grab it like there is never tomorrow. He has already won Indian Wells holding the twin Masters will be a unique feat indeed.


Margot Says:

^ Michael, have you been a-snoozing…;)


the DA Says:

@ margot – LOL! That post is just bizarre. Let’s do the time warp.


Brando Says:

@Michael: LOL, too much of watching Dr. Who by any chance?


Brando Says:

@Margot: I wouldn’t be to concerned about muzza. In tennis, just like in life, folks mature at varying rates. Andy’s progression is at a different rate to his peers, not any less or better, just his own. IMO his games is coming along very nicely and he is displaying a more steely consistency than ever before. I’m absolutely certain he’ll create oppurtunities for himself regarding the big titles. Now though I’m more certain than ever before, that he’ll make the most out of them!


alison Says:

Brando much agreed,and with a(hopefully)new and improved Rafa,as a fan of both players i couldnt be happier,i like Daveed but im hoping Andy can bag the Miami title and the no2 ranking into the bargain go Muzza.


Margot Says:

Lol guys, do u think Michael is a reincarnation of our jamie? After all the past is so much easier to predict…..;)
AND Seany’s jinx half broken too….


alison Says:

Margot nah ones much more sensible as a poster than the other.


skeezer Says:

@Michael

I disagree with you. I am predicting Ferrer and Andy get into the final.


Margot Says:

Well skeeze must be jamie then….hang on he’s better than jamie cos he got the past prediction right.
Breaking news: Skeeze is the better improved jamie. ;)


alison Says:

Margot LMAO ;)

Top story: Wawrinka, Sharapova Struggle Through; Thurs. Preview at US Open
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Rankings
ATP - Aug 25 WTA - Aug 25
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Rafael Nadal2 Simona Halep
3 Roger Federer3 Na Li
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Agnieszka Radwanska
6 Milos Raonic6 Maria Sharapova
7 Tomas Berdych7 Angelique Kerber
8 Grigor Dimitrov8 Eugenie Bouchard
9 Andy Murray9 Ana Ivanovic
10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga10 Jelena Jankovic
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