Rome, Italy (Sports Network) - Czech slugger Tomas Berdych came from way
behind to upset two-time champion Novak Djokovic, while six-time winner
Rafael Nadal and reigning Wimbledon champion Roger Federer each pulled out
quarterfinal victories Friday at the $3.475 million Italian Masters tennis
The sixth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych eventually outmuscled the
world No. 1 Djokovic for a stunning 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 decision in 2 hours, 22
minutes on the red clay at Foro Italico. Berdych overcame a 2-6, 2-5 deficit
to advance and beat Djokovic for the first time in three years, snapping an
11-match losing streak against the formidable Serb.
The fifth-seeded former No. 1 Nadal, meanwhile, needed all three sets to sneak
past fourth-seeded fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Day 6. Ferrer
had match points against Nadal last week in Madrid, but lost that quarterfinal
match as Nadal went on to title on home soil.
Federer, seeded second here and twice a runner-up in Rome, had a little easier
time in his quarterfinal bout with Jerzy Janowicz, though the 17-time Grand
Slam champion was taken to a second-set tiebreaker before pulling out a 6-4,
7-6 (7-2) decision over his Polish foe.
Berdych was dominated by Djokovic for the first half of their 15th meeting on
Friday and did not create his first break-point chance until the Serb was
serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set. Having trailed 2-5, Berdych
reeled off five straight games to level the match. He then broke Djokovic in
the third game of the third set to put himself on the path to victory. Berdych
surrendered a 40-love lead when serving for the match, but converted his
fourth match point.
"I lost concentration and started to play more defensively," lamented
Djokovic. "[I played] a bad game at 5-3 and I made some unforced errors. At
this level you have to take advantage of the opportunities and I lost this
game by myself."
Berdych is now 2-13 lifetime against the mighty Djokovic.
It was also only Berdych's fourth win versus a top-ranked player in 20
attempts, with all three previous victories coming against Federer.
Djokovic was the Rome titlist in 2008 and 2011 and lost to Nadal in last
year's final, after topping Nadal in the final here in '11. The Serbian
star had played in the Rome final in four of the last five years.
The Australian Open champion Djokovic was a second-round loser against
promising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov last week in Madrid.
The 6-foot-5 Berdych will now appear in his third Masters semifinal of the
Nadal improved to 19-4 lifetime against his good friend Ferrer, including wins
in their last 13 matchups on clay.
The 26-year-old star is now riding a 13-match overall winning streak and
seeking a third title in three events. Last week's Madrid Masters champ has
played in seven finals in as many tournaments in 2013 and already piled up
five titles since returning from a seven-month injury layoff back in February.
Nadal is the all-time leader with 23 Masters titles.
As a result of beating Ferrer on Friday, should Nadal win the title in Rome,
he would overtake Ferrer at No. 4 in the rankings and therefore be seeded
fourth at Roland Garros, where he's a seven-time champion.
Nadal will battle Berdych on Saturday. The Spanish star is 13-3 lifetime
against the big Czech, including a perfect 4-0 mark on clay. Nadal beat
Berdych in the quarters here in Rome last year.
Federer's next opponent will be Benoit Paire after the talented Frenchman
mauled helpless Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-0 on Friday to secure his
first-ever semifinal berth in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event.
This week's big winner will earn $650,000.
The Sports Network