KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Even from the cheap seats, the ones with a lovely view of the Miami skyline, a thud reverberated when Andy Murray angrily whacked his tennis bag with his racket.
The Brit was miffed after losing the first set of Friday’s semifinal at the Sony Open. But he found no further need to punish his equipment, rallying past a gimpy Richard Gasquet 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-2.
Murray’s opponent Sunday will be No. 3-seeded David Ferrer, who beat Tommy Haas, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Ferrer will appear in his first Key Biscayne final after twice losing in the semifinals, while Murray won the tournament in 2009 and was runner-up last year.
Murray endured some wobbly moments against Gasquet, double-faulting twice on break point, and he lost a set for the first time in the tournament.
But the No. 8-seeded Gasquet aggravated a lingering right ankle injury and required treatment from a trainer after the second set, and he limped at times.
“I didn’t know when exactly he started feeling it,” Murray said. “But he definitely wasn’t moving in the third set too well to his forehand side. So obviously tactics change. You try to make them run to that side as much as possible. And it worked.”
Gasquet said he hurt his ankle earlier this month at Indian Wells, and it began to feel worse in the second set.
“I felt it a little bit, and I have some problems,” he said. “But I try my best. For sure when you have to play a guy like Andy, it’s tough. I think I didn’t lose because of that. I lost because he’s very good.”
Murray had a 38-19 edge in winners and converted seven of eight break-point chances.
“He’s the best defender in the world and he never misses,” Gasquet said.
Ferrer won the final five games of his semifinal and improved to 25-4 this year. He leads the tour in victories and is trying to become the first Spaniard to win the Key Biscayne men’s championship.
Rafael Nadal is a three-time runner-up, and Spaniards are 0-5 in the final.
“I will try to do my best to win Sunday,” Ferrer said. “It’s going to be very difficult, no?”
Murray’s ranked No. 3 and would climb to No. 2 if he wins the title. He has a 6-5 record against Ferrer, a frequent practice partner.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor, a great fighter,” Murray said. “We train a lot together, so we know each other’s games well. It should be a really tough match with a lot of long rallies.”
The path to the title was made easier because Nadal and Roger Federer skipped the tournament, and Novak Djokovic was upset by Haas in the fourth round.
Meanwhile, No. 1 plays No. 2 in the women’s final Saturday, with five-time champion Serena Williams facing four-time runner-up Maria Sharapova.
Murray appeared in trouble at 1-all in the second set, but he won six consecutive games to take the lead. Gasquet blew overheads on back-to-back points, and his groundstrokes began to go awry as well.
Three service breaks in a row to start the final set left Murray leading 2-1, and he dominated the rest of the way. Gasquet is off to the best start of his career this year, but he fell to 6-34 against top-five opponents.
The 34-year-old Haas, the oldest man in the top 50, took a 3-1 lead in third set of his semifinal but appeared to tire and was undone by a flurry of errors down the stretch.
The 5-foot-9 Ferrer doggedly chased down shots as usual, winning the majority of long rallies and taking advantage of a poor serving day by Haas.
“He started playing more solid,” Haas said. “He made life pretty tough on me. I started missing a little bit and came up a little too often. He didn’t miss at all anymore.”
The No. 18-ranked Haas put only 43 percent of his first serves in play and was broken six times. Ferrer’s serve was better, and he held the last game at love.
“I tried to fight every point,” Ferrer said. “I know Tommy, in the third set, was a little bit more tired than me.”
Ferrer had lost in his two previous appearances in the semifinals in 2005 and ‘06.
Haas, who is projected to crack the top 15 next week for the first time in five years, raced to a 5-2 lead in the opening set but after that looked nothing like the player who upset Djokovic on Tuesday. He shanked half a dozen backhands and blew several easy volleys, which left him cursing and waving his arms in frustration.
“I’m going to have to let this sink in a little bit,” Haas said. “Anytime you lose, it’s tough. But it has been an unbelievable tournament, something that I will definitely cherish for the rest of my life.”