Murray, Ferrer reach Sony Open final

Even from the cheap seats, the ones with a lovely view of the
Miami skyline, a thud reverberated when Andy Murray angrily whacked
his tennis bag with his racket.

Murray was miffed after losing the first set of Friday’s
semifinal at the Sony Open. But he found no further need to punish
his equipment, rallying past a gimpy Richard Gasquet 6-7 (3), 6-1,
6-2.

Murray’s opponent Sunday will be No. 3-seeded David Ferrer, who
beat Tommy Haas, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Ferrer will appear in his first Key
Biscayne final after twice losing in the semifinals, while Murray
won the tournament in 2009 and was runner-up last year.

Murray endured some wobbly moments against Gasquet,
double-faulting twice on break point, and he lost a set for the
first time in tournament when the stylish Frenchman played a
flawless tiebreaker.

But the No. 8-seeded Gasquet aggravated a lingering right ankle
injury and required treatment from a trainer after the second set,
and he limped at times.

”I didn’t know when exactly he started feeling it,” Murray
said. ”But he definitely wasn’t moving in the third set too well
to his forehand side. So obviously tactics change. You try to make
them run to that side as much as possible. And it worked.”

Gasquet said he hurt his ankle earlier this month at Indian
Wells, and it began to feel worse in the second set.

”I felt it a little bit, and I have some problems,” he said.
”But I try my best. For sure when you have to play a guy like
Andy, it’s tough. I think I didn’t lose because of that. I lost
because he’s very good.”

Murray had a 38-19 edge in winners and converted seven of eight
break-point chances.

”He’s the best defender in the world and he never misses,”
Gasquet said.

Ferrer won the final five games of his semifinal and improved to
25-4 this year. He leads the tour in victories and is trying to
become the first Spaniard to win the Key Biscayne men’s
championship.

Rafael Nadal is a three-time runner-up, and Spaniards are 0-5 in
the final.

”I will try to do my best to win Sunday,” Ferrer said. ”It’s
going to be very difficult, no?”

Murray’s ranked No. 3 and would climb to No. 2 if he wins the
title. He has a 6-5 record against Ferrer, a frequent practice
partner.

”He’s an unbelievable competitor, a great fighter,” Murray
said. ”We train a lot together, so we know each other’s games
well. It should be a really tough match with a lot of long
rallies.”

The path to the title was made easier because Nadal and Roger
Federer skipped the tournament, and Novak Djokovic was upset by
Haas in the fourth round.

Murray appeared in trouble at 1-all in the second set, but he
won six consecutive games to take the lead. Gasquet blew overheads
on back-to-back points, and his groundstrokes began to go awry as
well.

Three service breaks in a row to start the final set left Murray
leading 2-1, and he dominated the rest of the way. Gasquet is off
to the best start of his career this year, but he fell to 6-34
against top-five opponents.

The 34-year-old Haas, the oldest man in the top 50, took a 3-1
lead in third set of his semifinal but appeared to tire and was
undone by a flurry of errors down the stretch.

The 5-foot-9 Ferrer doggedly chased down shots as usual, winning
the majority of long rallies and taking advantage of a poor serving
day by Haas.

”He started playing more solid,” Haas said. ”He made life
pretty tough on me. I started missing a little bit and came up a
little too often. He didn’t miss at all anymore.”

The No. 18-ranked Haas put only 43 percent of his first serves
in play and was broken six times. Ferrer’s serve was better, and he
held the last game at love.

”I tried to fight every point,” Ferrer said. ”I know Tommy,
in the third set, was a little bit more tired than me.”

Ferrer had lost in his two previous appearances in the
semifinals in 2005 and `06.

Haas, who is projected to crack the top 15 next week for the
first time in five years, raced to a 5-2 lead in the opening set
but after that looked nothing like the player who upset Djokovic on
Tuesday. He shanked half a dozen backhands and blew several easy
volleys, which left him cursing and waving his arms in
frustration.

”I’m going to have to let this sink in a little bit,” Haas
said. ”Anytime you lose, it’s tough. But it has been an
unbelievable tournament, something that I will definitely cherish
for the rest of my life.”