Sony Open fourth-round previews: Murray vs. Seppi, Tsonga vs. Cilic

Andy Murray is part of a jam-packed Tuesday schedule in Miami as he goes up against Andreas Seppi. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic are also looking for a spot in the quarterfinals.

(16) Andreas Seppi vs. (2) Andy Murray

Seppi and Murray will be meeting for the sixth time in their careers when they clash in round four of the Sony Open on Tuesday. Murray leads the head-to-head series 4-1–including 2-0 on hard courts–and he has won four in a row against Seppi since losing their first-ever encounter back in 2006 on the grass courts of Nottingham. They have a not faced each other since 2010, when Murray won a pair of matches in straight sets.

Seppi, however, is playing the best tennis of his career at 29 years old. He is up to No. 19 in the world and he boasts an 11-6 record for his 2013 campaign. The Italian ran into a red-hot Ernests Gulbis early in Indian Wells, but so far in Miami he has taken out Aljaz Bedene and Thomaz Bellucci. In three tournaments this season, Murray owns a title in Brisbane, a runner-up at the Australian Open, and a quarterfinal at the Indian Wells Masters. The third-ranked Scot kicked off his Indian Wells campaign by routing Bernard Tomic before getting past another up-and-comer, Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6(3), 6-3.

As their past history suggests, this is not a good matchup for Seppi. Murray can do everything his opponent can do and he can do all of it in superior fashion. The No. 2 seed is not in entirely dominant form right now so this should be competitive, but a clear edge goes to the favorite.

Pick: Murray in 2

(6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (9) Marin Cilic

Tsonga and Cilic will be squaring off for the third time in their careers when they collide on Tuesday afternoon. The head-to-head series is tied up at one apiece; Cilic prevailed in three sets six years ago at Queen’s Club before Tsonga scored a 6-3, 6-4 victory at the 2011 Cincinnati Masters.

Both players are in fine form to begin their 2013 campaigns. Tsonga owns a title this season in Marseille to go along with quarterfinal finishes at the Australian Open and Indian Wells Masters. So far in Miami, the eighth-ranked Frenchman has dismissed both Viktor Troicki and Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets. Cilic has also made his way into the last 16 without the loss of a set. The 11th-ranked Croat held off Santiago Giraldo in two tight sets before defeating John Isner 6-3, 7-6(3) on Monday night. Cilic is now 14-4 for the season, which includes a title on the indoor hard courts of Zagreb.

This should be one of the day’s best matches with both men playing stellar tennis. The relative slowness of the court should favor Cilic to some extent, but Tsonga boasts a slightly bigger game and when he is on point–which he is right now–he is more dangerous.

Pick: Tsonga in 3

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