After all is said and done in Miami, after all the upsets and surprises we are still left with two of the top three seeds in the men’s final tomorrow as former champion Andy Murray takes on first-time finalist David Ferrer in the last hardcourt match until July.
Both guys reached the finals after surviving (dis)similar three setters yesterday. Murray failed to serve out the first set against Richard Gasquet, allowing the Frenchman to take the opener in a breaker. Then Murray got into gear winning 12 of the last 15 games en route to his second straight Miami final and a the No. 2 ranking if he wins out.
Ferrer also lost the first set to the surprising Cinderella Tommy Haas. The 34-year-old Haas really took it to the Spaniard in the first but after a long week just couldn’t keep the momentum going. Ferrer dug in and all but made Tommy come down off his high. And when he did, Ferrer seized.
Tommy had his chances in the third, twice leading by a break but Ferrer won the last five games of the match to book his first final in Miami, and his second at a Tennis Masters in his last three.
Is Ferrer becoming a hardcourt specialist in his 30s? Not so, but he is a solid top player.
As for tomorrow…
David Ferrer v. Andy Murray
Obviously Murray gets the edge in this matchup. While Ferrer has kept this series with Murray close – Andy leads 6-5 – on hardcourts it’s a different story. Murray has won five of six meetings with Ferrer and in those wins Murray’s lost just one set.
Ferrer did beat Murray in their most recent cement collision at the 2011 London finals, but Murray’s a different player mentally now. He’s got a Slam, got a Ggld got a serious coach in his box in Ivan Lendl. Plus he’s won Miami before in 2009. So unless the Scot goes completely off the rails – he could, and he hasn’t been particularly sharp this week – it’s going to be very tough for David to make serious inroads into Murray’s game on Sunday.
In terms of stroke matchups, Murray’s better in every single category: forehand, backhand, speed, net play, serve and I think even the return of serve. But upstairs is where Ferrer has a slight edge.
“Ferrer has a great attitude on the court,” Murray said. “He fights for every single point. You’re going to have to do more running than against some players that may be 30 Love or 40 Love, may just miss or give you a point almost. You know, it’s not like that with him. He plays every single point hard, and that’s why it’s tough against him.”
Pressure, though could be factor. With Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all watching (or not) from home, this is a massive, rare opportunity for both guys to pick up huge title and some crucial ranking points. Ferrer, who turns 31 next week, may never again get a such a crack at a prestigious hardcourt title like Miami. And with Murray, a part-time Miami resident, the clear favorite, the bulk of that weight and expectation falls his way, something he’s had trouble dealing with in the past. In fact, since his US Open title Murray’s won just one singles title, that coming over Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane, so nerves are going to be an issue in this one, for both guys.
Ferrer has to be feeling content with how he’s played while Murray needs a big win like this heading into the clay season where Rafa reigns supreme.
In the end I just feel Murray has too much game and too much firepower for Ferrer. But as we saw against Haas, David will make his opponents earn it. And I think in this case Murray will.
The pick: Murray in two
CBS will have live coverage of the match starting at 11:30am ET. Happy Easter everyone.
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