Rafael Nadal would have remembered each and every moment of his unceremonious defeat that he went through four years ago at the Australian Open at the hands of Tomas Berdych as he avenged his meek surrender by turning the tide this time around, inflicting pain and agony on the Czech, packing him off in straight sets 6-0, 6-1, 7-6(7-4).
Berdych appeared to be a mere spectator in the first set as Nadal looked at his ominous best wrapping off the set in just 27 minutes. Except the instance where Nadal fended off a break point in the very first game of the match, the set was just a one-way traffic as Nadal with his improved serve, which has been influential throughout the tournament so far helping him close out matches faster than ever before, didn’t lose too much of sweat as he annihilated Berdych 6-0.
The story of set number two wasn’t different either. After losing 9 games in a row, Berdych, finally in the 4th game of the set registered a game against his name as he took warm applause from the crowd, looking at the lighter side of the story. Nadal was so dominant as he choked his opponent, not willing to even give a sniff as he moved two-thirds of his way into the quarterfinals, rampaging home the set 6-1.
Berdych, with an opportunity to serve first in the set for the first time in the match, wasn’t ready to throw in the towel as yet as he looked keen to put up a show, leaving behind the disappointments of horrendous first two sets. The tall Czech who was severely struggling to hold even one single game in first two sets held on first two service games to love in the third set and fended off break points in the 5th game to stay clear of Rafa at 3-2.
As the set grew old, we witnessed few moments of Berdych of old, but Rafa was in no mood of any let off whatsoever, as he fought some crucial points to hold firm and push the set into a Tie-break. With a mini-break at 4-3 in the tie-break, Berdych on his serve made a poor shot selection, going in for that drop shot and a small window of opportunity was all Rafa was searching for in the tie-break as he completely outplayed Berdych in all departments of the game to register a dominant and comprehensive victory over his old rival.
If not a show stopper kind of match, tennis fans were certainly in anticipation of a fiercely fought contest between these old rivals with probably few moments of vintage Berdych unwinding the clock, but it was not to be as Nadal’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, a little too much for Berdych to handle.
With his emphatic victory over the Czech, Nadal has booked his place in the quarterfinals, thereby becoming the first of top seeds in the men’s draw to enter the deciding end of the tournament and faces a rising star and this year’s Australian Open’s new sensation Frances Tiafoe. A hard fought battle against American Tiafoe would just be an ideal dress rehearsal for the Spaniard if indeed he faces even tougher opponents in the semi-finals and finals.