Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Berdych finally cracks the Nadal code

Rafa Nadal entered today's quarter final against Tomas Berdych with a 17 win no loss record and his form across the last two matches gave good cause to think that number 18 would be about to occur. Tomas would beg to differ, arguing that the 17 were just part of a planned build up to this very occasion, and point to his performances this Aus Open which involved not dropping a set, something for which Rafa could not boast.

Berdych burst out of the starting gate and Rafa missed the start by a few lengths.  The man from the Czech Republic served a love game and Rafa, although levelling, did so with a double fault and a less convincing manner.

Two aces and swiftly back to Nadal whose second effort at the line was poor and the break was greeted with sighs from the crowds, not sighs of relief. Berdych ahead 3-1.

Tomas had his own drama with which to deal in the fifth game when having to evade stumbling blocks in the form of two break points.  Once done he set up a second game point for himself with a fine forehand and he consolidated the position 4-1.

A pair of Spanish aces made it 2-4 and some Czech forehand slickness stretched it to 5-2.  Rafa played a shocker and lost his serve and the set 2-6 providing Tomas a launching pad for perhaps something special.

Set two was an embarrassment for Nadal as much as a tour de force for Berdych.  Not much to say but state the facts.  6 games played and all won by the 7th seed.  18 serves for the set by Nadal from which he won just 6 points.  Berdych hit 11 winners and only a few unforced errors.  He simply hit Nadal off the court.  Something rarely seen at this level but what it did was give Nadal the challenge of winning in five sets for the second time this tournament.

Berdych did not relent in the third set and kept hitting winners as if it was going out of style.  Rafa happily joined the party and the set was fantastic tennis, all the while Nadal serving second trying to stay alive in the match, and Berdych doing his utmost not to tighten up as he nudged closer to a semi final.

Neither player surrendered a break point, in fact hardly any was offered - instead glorious shot making and memorable rallies delighted a crowd pleased for Berdych's success but aching for Rafa to win this set.

A tie break arrived after Rafa survived 5-6 15-40, saving those two match points with attacking flair.

The tie break was one way traffic as Berdych raced to 5-1 with one Nadal serve to come.  A fighting Nadal won that and then both of the points on the Berych serve to incredibly be back at 4-5.  
Berdych hit a tremendous winner to be 6-4 and with two more match points.  Rafa saved one but then Tomas had the fourth chance and the first on his own serve.

Berdych did the job winning the match 6-2 6-0 7-6 and his 18th match against Nadal produced his first success - a great stage upon which to break through.

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