Australian Open - Rafael Nadal crashes out as Tomas Berdych makes Melbourne semis

Tomas Berdych played arguably the grand slam quarter-final of his life to end the longest losing streak on the ATP Tour with a 6-2 6-0 7-6(5) victory over Rafael Nadal and advance to the Australian Open semi-finals.

Staff Reporter
27 January 2015, 10:45am
Tomas Berdych beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets
Tomas Berdych beat Rafael Nadal in straight sets
Berdych won three of his first four meetings with Nadal but had not tasted victory over the Spaniard since 2006, his 17 straight defeats equalling a record in the open era.

However, the 29-year-old Czech picked the ideal time to end the sequence with a stunning 6-2 6-0 7-6 (7/5) victory on Rod Laver Arena and has yet to drop a set in the championship.

It was just the third time Nadal had lost a set 6-0 in a grand slam, the most recent being to Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon final and the other in the second round of the 2004 US Open against Andy Roddick.

The nine-time French Open champion also lost a set 6-0 to Britain's Andy Murray in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi earlier this month and had constantly maintained he was not a top contender in Melbourne due to the wrist injury and appendicitis which ruined the latter half of 2014.

"I am feeling okay. Just was not my day," said Nadal, whose sole Australian Open title to date came back in 2009. "I didn't play with the right intensity, with the right rhythm, and the opponent played better than me.

"It is a day that I just can congratulate my opponent. It is obvious that I needed something more to be more competitive, as I did in the third set. The third was the right set, the right game that I have to play.

"But is obvious that before I didn't play with the right confidence, with the right intensity, losing court (position), playing very short. I make him play very easy. So you cannot expect to win matches in quarter-finals of a grand slam helping the opponent to play well.

"Since the beginning of the third, I played with more character, more the way that I have to play to have chances to be where I want to be, to be where I have been for the last lot of years.

"As I said when I arrived here, the process always is not easy. When you have injuries, the comebacks are difficult. There are so many examples around the world of sport that have been tough to be back. I'm not an exception on that, no?

"I have to take the positive things. Without being at my top level of tennis I was able to be here in quarter-finals. Is not a bad result at all for me arriving here the way I arrived, only with five matches in seven months."

Berdych broke Nadal twice in the first set and three times in the second, barely being troubled on his serve until having to save two break points in the ninth game of the third set.

Nadal then saved two match points to force a tie-break and another at 6-4 in the breaker, but netted a return on the fourth match point after Berdych had set it up with a superb forehand return winner.

"I was definitely ready for it, I set up my plan pretty well and stuck with that all the way through the three sets," a delighted Berdych said. "I was expecting a very tough battle but I was ready for everything and I think that was the biggest difference.

"I started pretty well but you are playing Rafa and you have to really keep going until the last point. You have to be ready for everything. He is a great fighter but I stayed focused and kept doing my stuff and it was working pretty good."

Berdych praised the influence of new coach Dani Vallverdu, who previously helped Murray win grand slam titles at the US Open and Wimbledon.

"I've been really happy with how we work together so far but the good thing is I am already able to execute the things on the court," Berdych added. "It works well. We set up a great plan for today and it worked, so what could be better?"

Asked what Vallverdu had come up with, Berdych added: "I think I'm going to keep it a bit secret. That would be really pointless setting up the tactics and the way how we want to prepare for the matches if I just open up everything here.

"But he changed a lot of things. He changed a lot of positive things."