Saturday, March 30, 2013

MIAMI 2013: Murray Faces Ferrer For Title, #2 Spot

Andy Murray is 1 match win away
from the World #2 ranking
World #3 Andy Murray of Great Britain reached the final of the Miami Masters tournament for the third time by outlasting (and outplaying) a resurgent Richard Gasquet 6-7(3) 6-1 6-2. Murray will face David Ferrer who came from behind to dispatch a red-hot Tommy Haas, still basking in his stunning win over World #1 Novak Djokovic, 4-6 6-2 6-3. The two traded breaks repeatedly throughout the deciding set, with the indomitable Spaniard prevailing. Djokovic was the 2-time defending champion at the tournament, now called Sony Open Tennis, so his exit means a new champion will be crowned for the first time since 2010.

In addition to a coveted Masters shield, Murray is also playing for an even bigger prize: the #2 ranking on the ATP World Tour. If he wins the title he will return to the #2 spot (which he last held for 3 weeks in August 2009), but more importantly he will be ranked ahead of Roger Federer for the first time in his career. Murray deserves the #2 ranking, he is the only player to have been in the last 3 consecutive major finals (2012 Wimbledon final l. Federer, 2012 US Open final w. Djokovic, 2013 Australian Open final l. Djokovic). Although, if you look at the last 4 majors, both Murray and Djokovic have been in 3 of the last 4 majors. If Murray wants to be #1 in the world by the end of the year (which is a possibility) he will need to dramatically improve his clay court results, especially in the Masters Shields events in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome. Unfortunately for Murray's plans to reach #1, the King of Clay Rafael Nadal is back, and appears to be playing well.

To even have a chance at #1 he has to reach #2, and to get there Murray has to beat Ferrer in the final. The Briton has a surprisingly slight 6-5 career head-to-had advantage over. This record sounds closer than it is because 4 of the 5 losses have been on clay, where Murray has under-performed in the last few years. On hard courts Murray leads 5-1, with the one loss coming at the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals which Murray withdrew from after that match. On a (relatively fast) hard court, Murray is showing that he is at least the second best player in the world, and has been for probably more than a year. Soon his ranking will reflect that fact, since that is the surface most of the important tournaments on the tour are played on.

MadProfessah prediction: Murray.

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