Rafael Nadal crushes Tomas Berdych to reach semis of Madrid Masters
Almost eight years ago, Tomas Berdych defeated Rafael Nadal in Madrid, which incidentally was his last victory over the Spaniard. But Nadal found some of his best tennis in recent memory today to snuff out any hopes of an encore for Berdych, waltzing past with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 victory. An obviously elated Nadal was animated in his celebrations as he expressed his joy at finding form just ahead of the French Open.
It took Nadal an hour and 29 minutes to win his 17th straight match against Berdych, as he coasted into the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Masters inside the Caja Magica.
The scent of danger awakens the beast in Nadal. At 0-30 in the sixth game, Berdych was sniffing at a likely break of serve. But Nadal unleashed a crosscourt winner, ripping it past a stunned Berdych to wrest control of the game. Suddenly there was an intensity and purpose behind Nadal’s game that showcased the guttural instincts of the Spaniard.
Nadal shifted gears and the sudden spurt left Berdych rattled. The Czech immediately went down a couple of break points in the next game. He saved the first, but Nadal, standing a long way behind the baseline, ran wide to strike a brilliant return winner to leave his opponent stranded in the Ad court.
Nadal had 11 winners, seven off his forehand, to just five from Berdych, as he marched away with the first set in 46 minutes. During a critical phase in the first set, Berdych lost his composure and paid the price for it as Nadal made the most of his opportunity.
The Czech needed to press forth and find a crack before it was too late. At deuce in the second game, there was just that opportunity. But then Nadal was striking the ball with ferocity, and a couple of monstrous forehand winners from the left-handed emperor denied Berdych any early advantage in the second set.
Just as he did in the first set, Nadal used the recovery act to spur him forward on the Berdych serve. A couple of crisply minted forehand winners were enough to earn him another vital break. This was expected to be a tricky quarterfinal for Nadal, but after consolidating to 3-1, it appeared that the Spaniard was striking form at just the right time.
Nadal put the situation beyond repair for his opponent when he gained his third break of the match in the seventh game, even as a deflated Berdych faded into the background at 5-2 for the Spaniard.
The three-time Madrid champion brooked no further delay as he fired himself to victory with ease to reach the last four for the seventh time in his career.