Vienna SF previews and predictions: Murray vs. Ferrer, Tsonga vs. Karlovic

Andy Murray will hope to continue his hot streak at the expense of familiar foe David Ferrer during semifinal action on Saturday in Vienna. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ivo Karlovic are also aiming for a spot in the title match.

(1) Andy Murray vs. (5) David Ferrer

Murray and Ferrer will be squaring off for the 21st time in their careers when they clash in the semifinals of the Erste Bank Open on Saturday. The head-to-head series stands at 14-6 in favor of Murray, even though Ferrer once led it 3-1 and still found himself tied 5-5 through 10 showdowns. Murray has won nine of their last 10 encounters, including seven in a row dating back to this same Vienna tournament in 2014. They just faced each other during semifinal competition in Beijing, where the second-ranked Scot cruised 6-2, 6-3.

One win later, Murray was the champion in Beijing–a spot in which he has been extremely familiar ever since the start of the summer grass-court swing. The three-time Grand Slam winner has captured the title at five of his last seven events and he is a ridiculous 39-2 in his last 41 tournament matches. Murray needed three sets to outlast Martin Klizan and Gilles Simon earlier this week before crushing John Isner 6-1, 6-3 on Friday. Ferrer has advanced with victories over Kyle Edmund (by retirement), Joao Sousa, and Viktor Troicki–the latter via a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 decision. Troicki served for the match on Friday before going down in two hours and 33 minutes. Nothing suggests the 34-year-old Spaniard will be able to make this one particularly competitive.

Pick: Murray in 2

(6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (8) Ivo Karlovic

Tsonga and Karlovic will be going head-to-head for just the third time in their careers at the ATP level on Saturday. Both of their previous meetings have come at Wimbledon, where Karlovic got the job done in fourth-set tiebreakers; 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) in the 2009 third round and 7-6(3), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(9) in the 2015 third round. They also faced each other on the Challenger circuit back in 2007, when Tsonga won another grass-court encounter 6-3, 7-6(4).
Ivo 2
Karlovic is on his second or third life in Vienna, where he opened with a 7-6(5), 6-3 defeat of Steve Johnson before things got much trickier. The 37-year-old Croat came back from a double-break down in the third set to stun Damir Dzumhur 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(5) and saved two match points to beat Karen Khachanov 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-3. Tsonga, on the other hand, has not dropped a set in victories over Benjamin Becker, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Still with an outside chance of qualifying for the World Tour Finals, a motivated and well-rested Frenchman should be able to take advantage of an opponent who has double-faulted 20 times this week.

Pick: Tsonga in 3

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