Sony Open final preview and pick: Murray vs. Ferrer

Despite all the absences and surprises in Miami, two of the top three seeds and two of the top five players in the world will contest the final on Sunday. Either Andy Murray or David Ferrer will take home the title.

Murray Ferrer
Andy Murray and David Ferrer will be squaring off for the 12th time in their careers when they collide in the Sony Open final on Sunday afternoon.

Murray leads the head-to-head series 6-5, including 5-1 on hard courts. After losing their first five hard-court encounters, Ferrer finally prevailed 6-4, 7-5 at the 2011 World Tour Finals. They faced each other twice last season, with Ferrer scoring a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2 French Open win before Murray got revenge with a 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-4, 7-6(4) victory at Wimbledon.

Neither man is playing the best tennis of his career right now, but both have quietly put together solid 2013 campaigns amidst the relative dominance of Novak Djokovic and the return of Rafael Nadal. Murray captured the Brisbane title and finished runner-up at the Australian Open before falling in the quarterfinals in Indian Wells. The third-ranked Scot is one win away from a second Miami triumph following defeats of Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov, Andreas Seppi, Marin Cilic, and Richard Gasquet.

Murray 3

Ferrer lifted trophies in Auckland and Buenos Aires only to get clobbered by Nadal in the Acapulco final and lose his Indian Wells opener to Kevin Anderson. The fifth-ranked Spaniard, however, is back on track in Miami thanks to victories over Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori, Jurgen Melzer, and Tommy Haas (he also got a walkover past Dmitry Tursunov). Ferrer is now 25-4 for the season.

“Ferrer has a great attitude on the court,” Murray said of his frequent practice partner. “He fights for every single point. He’s not struggling to play well in the big events. So that’s why he’s there, and it will be a very tough match.”

Ferrer winner
As slow as the Miami surface is, it’s still not clay–and that is the only way Ferrer would have an edge (he is 4-0 against Murray on the slow stuff). The No. 3 seed was rock solid against Haas, but that level will not be good enough against an opponent who can stay out there as long as possible and trade groundstroke for groundstroke without making errors. Murray’s superior firepower should see him through to another victory at his home away from home.

Pick: Murray in 3

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