Sony Open QF previews and picks: Ferrer vs. Melzer, Simon vs. Haas

Tommy Haas will be back in action less than 24 hours after upsetting Novak Djokovic in Miami. Wednesday’s quarterfinals pit Haas against Gilles Simon and David Ferrer against Jurgen Melzer.

(3) David Ferrer vs. Jurgen Melzer

Eleven years after their first encounter, Ferrer and Melzer will be doing battle for the ninth time in their careers when they collide in the quarterfinals of the Sony Open on Wednesday afternoon. Ferrer leads the head-to-head series 6-2, but they have split a pair of hard-court showdowns. They most recently faced each other last season in a clay-court Davis Cup quarterfinal rubber, which Ferrer–with home-court advantage–took in straight sets.

Ferrer winner

Melzer has been slumping ever since the summer of 2011, but he may finally be heating up. The 31-year-old Austrian finished runner-up in Zagreb, won the Dallas Challenger earlier this month, and so far in Miami he has taken out Ricardas Berankis, Marcel Granollers, Tobias Kamke, and Albert Ramos. Ferrer has not been playing as well as his 2013 record (23-4) suggests. The fifth-ranked Spaniard got positively destroyed by Rafael Nadal in the Acapulco final and he dropped his Indian Wells opener to Kevin Anderson. Ferrer looked good, however, in straight-set dismissals this fortnight of Fabio Fognini and Kei Nishikori.

Melzer has the firepower to trouble Ferrer and the underdog put it on display–along with an impressive mental game–while coming back from a set down against Berankis, Kamke, and Ramos. Unfortunately, the slow surface in Miami will not be conducive to the underdog’s upset bid. Ferrer should be able to play his way into a ton of baseline rallies, a trend that will always give an edge to the No. 3 seed.

Pick: Ferrer in 2

(11) Gilles Simon vs. (15) Tommy Haas

One day after stunning world No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets, Haas will be back on the court for quarterfinal action. The 34-year-old German preceded his monumental win by holding off Igor Sijsling 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 and thrashing Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-2. Haas is 13-5 for the season, which includes a runner-up finish in San Jose and a semifinal showing in Delray Beach.

HaasServe
Up next for the world No. 18 is a sixth career meeting with Simon. Haas is leading the head-to-head series 4-1, including 2-1 on hard courts. They squared off twice last year, with Haas prevailing 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on the clay courts of Hamburg and 6-2, 6-3 in Toronto.

Like his opponent, Simon turned in an extremely consistent but largely unspectacular 2013 campaign prior to Miami. The 13th-ranked Frenchman reached semifinals in Rotterdam and Marseille and he made fourth-round appearances at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells. So far this fortnight he has ousted Lleyton Hewitt, Grega Zemlja, and Janko Tipsarevic. Simon should have a good chance in this one because the slow surface favors his game and it is always hard to follow up an emotional victory with a similar performance one match later. Haas owns the bigger game, but Simon may wear him down.

Pick: Simon in 3


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