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Djokovic and Murray set for quarterfinal showdown in Miami
It was the perfect scenario for the sponsors as the big four, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray all reached the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters, while in the ladies draw, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash.
On a day that saw the humidity soar and police lock down Crandon Park for 30 minutes due to a suspicious package, there was no such drama on court except some high quality match-ups that delivered the fans some thrilling action.
Rafa Nadal, a runner up on three occasions in Miami, continued his quest for a 27th Masters title when he set up a quarter-final clash with number 12 seed Milos Raonic, the Spaniard taking just over an hour to brush aside Italian Fabio Fognini 6/2, 6/2.
Canadian Raonic also made light work of his last 16 clash when he eased past Germany’s Benjamin Becker 6/3, 6/4. Raonic will be looking for his first win over Nadal in four attempts and has yet to take a set from the Spaniard.
Tomas Berdych or the red hot Alexandr Dolgopolov could be potential semi-final opponents for Nadal as both booked their quarterfinal berths following wins over John Isner and Stan Wawrinka respectively.
Berdych, a Rotterdam titlist this year, eased past American John Isner, 6/3, 7/5, while, “the dog,” as he is becoming fondly known as stateside, caused another sensational upset when he battled to a 6/4, 3/6, 6/1 win over Australian Open champion Wawrinka.
The Ukrainian has had a good start to 2014 reaching the final in Rio de Janeiro and the semi-finals in Acapulco and Indian Wells, Rafa Nadal one of his giant killing conquests in the Californian desert.
In the bottom half of the draw, Roger Federer conceded just three games as he demolished Frenchman Richard Gasquet, 6/1, 6/2 in just 49 minutes. His next round opponent will be Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori, who advanced at the expense of last year’s runner up David Ferrer in a three hour battle that brought both players to their knees with exhaustion. Nishikori defied six match points to eventually win the third set tie-break, 11/9.
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will draw all the attention in the quarter-finals as the pair go head-to-head for the 20th time in a battle of former Miami champions. Djokovic has the edge with 11 wins to Murray’s eight. They are, however, in deadlock at five wins apiece over their last 10 meetings.
Murray, the defending champion and 2009 winner, had few problems on his way to a, 6/4, 6/1 win over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, while Djokovic a three times winner in Miami, continued his quest for a second consecutive Masters title with a 6/3, 7/5 win over former top 10 star Tommy Robredo.
In the ladies draw, Serena Williams set up a blockbuster semifinal with Maria Sharapova, both players registering impressive straight set wins over Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova.
Williams, a 6 times winner in Miami, was in particularly brutal form as her power proved too much for Kerber in a 6/2, 6/2 thrashing of the German, while Sharapova, a five times runner-up, brushed aside former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 7/5, 6/1.
The odds will be firmly stacked against Sharapova with the head to head count a massive 15-2 in favour of Williams, including a loss to the American in last year’s final.
There are signs that the Russian is playing some of her best tennis following an injury lay-off and could make life difficult for the home town girl.
The ladies quarter-finals conclude today when Australian Open champion Li Na takes on Carolina Wozniacki and Australian Open runner-up faces 2012 Miami titlist Agnieszka Radwanska.
Li and former world number one Wozniacki have met on six occasions with three wins apiece. Their last clash came in 2012 on the hard courts in Tokyo with the Dane winning in three sets.
Radwanska has had the better of Cibulkova in five of their previous seven meetings, however, the Pole will be wary following the Slovakian’s stunning semifinal win in the Australian Open earlier this year.