Murray advances to Miami semis
Reigning US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray advanced to the semifinals of the ATP Miami Masters on Thursday by defeating Croatian ninth seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3.
The second-seeded Scotsman will play French eighth seed Richard Gasquet for a spot in Sunday's final at the $8.5 million hardcourt tournament.
Murray won the Miami title in 2009 and lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's final.
Improving to 8-1 all-time against Cilic, Murray has now defeated him five times in a row since the lone loss in the fourth round of the 2009 US Open.
Murray beat Cilic in four sets at last year's US Open quarterfinals on the way to his first Grand Slam crown in their most recent prior meeting.
Cilic saved four break points in the opening game before holding, then the two exchanged breaks over the next four games before Murray held to level at 3-3 as both sprayed more errant shots than winners early.
"I played more solid as the match went on," Murray said. "Once I got back on level terms in the first set I started to do better, so many long rallies, long points, long games."
A backhand winner lifted Murray to a break in the ninth game for a 5-4 lead and although he fell behind 0-30, Murray won the next four points and took the first set after 45 minutes when Cilic netted a forehand volley.
Murray broke Cilic to open the second set then held at love and exchanged breaks in the seventh and eighth games before closing out matters on his seventh match point by breaking when Cilic netted a forehand after one hour and 42 minutes.
Murray told on-court commentator Brad Gilbert, Murray's former coach, that he began recalling stories Gilbert mentioned about letting his own matches slip away as the failed match points mounted in the final game.
"They were replaying in my head," Murray said. "I just managed to stay focused. I didn't play particularly aggressive on the match points. I'll have to do better next time."
Reuters reports that the US Open champion is the highest seed left in the draw after world No 1 Novak Djokovic lost to 15th seed Tommy Haas and the Briton can leapfrog Roger Federer to second place in the world rankings if he wins the title.
"I'd like to get to No 2 this week. It would be nice, but I'd rather focus on trying to win my matches," said the Scot, who will fancy his chances against eighth-seeded Gasquet.
Gasquet was solid, hitting 17 winners and breaking serve three times as his 6-3 6-3 victory over fourth seed Tomas Berdych easily made up for his defeat to the same opponent in the round of 16 at Indian Wells.
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The Frenchman knows he will be the underdog against Murray, with the Briton holding a 4-3 head-to-head advantage, but believes he is capable of producing an upset.
"I can win against Andy. He's the favourite, the No 3 in the world but I know his game, I know how he plays," he said.
Germany's Haas will play Spanish third seed David Ferrer in the other semifinal on Friday.