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Murray set for Rafa semi-final in Miami


 

Originally published on: 29/03/12 11:55

After two consecutive first round defeats in Miami in the past two years, Andy Murray has put the ghosts of those disappointing showings to rest and is back playing with the assurance that took him to the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open title.

The Scot booked a Friday semi-final with defeated 2011 finalist Rafael Nadal, who is seeking his maiden Miami triumph, after beating Janko Tipsarevic in three sets on Wednesday.
 
Nadal holds an overwhelming 13-5 advantage in their career head-to-heads, but take a look at their hardcourt record and a much more balanced account is evident. In their 11 meetings on the surface, Murray trails the world No.2 by only one, having taken five wins so far. Their last meeting came in October last year in the Tokyo final, where Murray went on to take the title. The Scot has something of a home court advantage, owning a flat in Miami and spending months training in the humid conditions every year.
 
It’s been a fairly straightforward route for the Brit so far. After a bye in the first round he faced Alejandro Falla, who retired early in the second set, before being handed a walkover when Canadian Milos Raonic suffered an ankle injury in training. Murray comfortably overcame Gilles Simon in two sets before coming through a quarter-final with Tipsarevic.
 
Nadal, meanwhile, has been progressing with similar ease. In his first match he lost only two games, bageling Santiago Giraldo in the second set, before bypassing Radek Stepanek and Kei Nishikori in straight sets before taking out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals.
 
Both semi-finalists were forced to step up their game at the quarter-final stage. Tsonga stole the second set from the Spaniard after breaking Nadal at 5-4, while for Murray, there was more to overcome than just nerves after he lost the first set, suggesting that over-hydration caused him some stomach trouble on the court. In the end he fought through illness to take the second set 6-3 and the third 6-4.
 
Sent home in the first round by Mardy Fish in 2010 and by Alex Bogomolov Jr in 2011, Murray is upbeat about the prospect of a semi-final with Nadal in Miami.
 
“Rafa, I’ve always quite enjoyed playing him on hard courts,” he said. “He’s obviously very tough for everybody.  He’s played well here the last couple of years. I think it’s a good, good court for him, pretty good conditions.”
 
Nadal, however, played down his chances, days after admitting he was struggling with a niggle in his left knee.
 
“I’m not feeling great,” he said. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next match, because gonna be a big match against one of the toughest opponents on tour, and probably I don’t arrive in my perfect conditions to that match.”

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