Rafael Nadal Toppled by Tomas Berdych in Australian Open Quarters


Rafael Nadal Toppled by Tomas Berdych in Australian Open Quarters

Rafael Nadal has been ousted from the Australian Open in convincing fashion. Tomas Berdych, who had lost seventeen straight times to Nadal, emphatically ended the drought against the former champion in straight sets 6-2 6-0 7-6.

Perhaps Nadal was on point when he kept insisting that he was not a contender down under. He did not look himself in the first two sets. His movement was limited and his forehand range was completely off. Nadal’s serve let him down as well. He did not win any point on his second serve for the first two sets. Berdych took advantage by playing one of the best matches of his career, with a plus-25 differential of winners to errors.

Perhaps Nadal was on point when he kept insisting that he was not a contender down under.

Berdych obviously came in with a clear game plan. He used his easy power to attack the forehand side of Nadal. Nadal is used to his opponents steering clear of his dangerous forehand and was often caught leaning the wrong way as he watched the Berdych winners fly by.

Rafa returned to form in the third set. The end of the that set saw plenty of excitement. At 4-4, Nadal had just held serve with a signature fist pump and was starting to look like a 14 time Grand Slam champion. The crowd was psyched and Berdych found himself facing a break point at 30-40. Berdych didn’t wither. Instead of giving Nadal hope at that point in the match, Berdych would save two break points that game and force Nadal to serve to stay in the tournament. Nadal won his service game to even the set, but the pressure still laid heaving on the Spaniard.

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After Berdych held serve again, Nadal was serving for his life. He started the 5-6 game with a double fault and an errant forehand to find himself down 0-30. Two points later, Berdych stood at 15-40 with two match points coming his way. Nadal saved them both with unreturnable serves and forced the tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, the forehand of Berdych was on fire. He switched ends ahead 5-1. Nadal won the next three points to get back on serve in the tiebreak at 5-4. A clean forehand return winner gave Berdych two more match points. The fourth match point was the first on Berdych’s serve and he fittingly won it with a big serve up the middle.

With the win, Berdych avoided becoming the first man in the Open Era to lose to the same player eighteen times in a row. He also reaches the semifinal of a Grand Slam for the fifth time in his career. He is playing like he can win this tournament. All other contenders take notice.

“I’m feeling really strong. I’m feeling really prepared,” said Berdych in and interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “I was able to execute [my plan] and that made the difference in the beginning.”

Make no mistake, Berdych earned this huge win. He has still not lost a set in the tournament. He will face the winner of the Andy Murray-Nick Kyrgios match. Even if he does face the favored Murray, Berdych leads the head-to-head 6-4, winning the two most recent matches in straight sets.

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Next: Australian Open Quarterfinals: Ranking the Final 8

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