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Murray, Ferrer To Battle SF Debutantes Gasquet, Haas in Miami

Miami, U.S.A.

Murray© Getty ImagesMurray has a 4-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Gasquet

FRIDAY PREVIEW – MURRAY, FERRER BACK IN SEMI-FINALS, GASQUET, HAAS MAKE SEMIS DEBUT

• The Sony Open Tennis semi-finals on Friday feature No. 2 seed Andy Murray of Great Britain and No. 3 seed David Ferrer of Spain against opponents appearing in the semis here for the first time, No. 8 Richard Gasquet of France and No. 15 Tommy Haas of Germany. Murray is the only British champion in tournament history (2009) while the other three players are trying to become the first player from their respective country to win the title here (since tournament began in 1985).

• One of the semi-finals is a 30-over match as Haas (34) and Ferrer (30) square off. It is first time here two 30-over players are meeting in the semi-finals and the fifth time since 1990 at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Andre Agassi, at 35, was the last player 34-over to reach the semi-finals (better) of an ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal in 2005 (l. to Nadal in final). Since 1990, Haas and Agassi are the only players 34-over to reach the semi-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 event.  Agassi reached three as a 34 year old in 2005. Jimmy Connors, who was 35 in 1988 when he reached the final here (l. to Wilander), is the oldest semi-finalist/finalist in tournament history.

• First up is a match between two players who are hoping for an early birthday present. Ferrer turns 31 on April 2 and Haas turns 35 on April 3. Ferrer has won both of the pair’s previous clashes, but they  haven’t faced off since 2008 in Dubai. Ferrer is bidding to lift his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy, having triumphed over Jerzy Janowicz in Paris last November. The Spaniard reached the semi-finals here in 2005 (l. to Nadal) and 2006 (l. to Federer). He is appearing in his 11th career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final 4-6 (1-1 last year) in semi-final matches. The German backed up his upset victory over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic by defeating No. 11 seed Gilles Simon, he did not face a break point, winning 78% of his service points in his 63 61 win. He is the first German to reach the semi-finals here in the tournament’s history and is appearing in his eighth career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final (2-5), first since 2006 Paris (ret. vs Hrbaty). His lone ATP Masters 1000 title came on home soil in Stuttgart in 2001 (d. Hewitt in SF, d. Mirnyi in F).

• In the night session, No  2 seed Murray brings a 4-3 career record against No. 8 seed Gasquet. Murray rallied from a break down twice in the first set and went on to convert six of his 18 break point chances in a 64 63 win over No. 9 seed Marin Cilic on Thursday afternoon to reach the semi-finals here for the fourth time (first without dropping a set). Last year’s Sony Open runner-up and ’09 champion is appearing in his 19th career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final 10-8 (2-1 here). He has only dropped 26 games so far. Gasquet saved both break points he faced and converted three of four in a 63 63 win over No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych on Thursday night to advance to his third semi-final of the year. He is the first Frenchman to reach the semi-finals here since his coach Sebastien Grosjean was runner-up in 1999 (l. to Krajicek).  No Frenchman has won the title here. He is appearing in his seventh career ATP Masters 1000 semi-final (3-3 in SF matches).

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