- Internazionali BNL d'Italia
Berdych beats Djokovic as Nadal edges Ferrer
Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Rome Masters after the world No. 1 suffered a 2-6 7-5 6-4 defeat to Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals on Friday, as Rafael Nadal overcame compatriot David Ferrer 6-4 4-6 6-2 to set up a semi-final with the Czech.
Djokovic was in control after he comfortably took the opening set. However, two points from defeat, Berdych attacked the Serb and staged a fine comeback to topple the two-time champion and seal a place in the semi-finals for the first time.
Berdych impressed at the start of the encounter as he pressurised Djokovic on his opening service game. However, when the Czech held his serve to love in the following game, Djokovic pounced in the fourth to seal the first break.
By the sixth game Djokovic had only lost two points on his serve as Berdych found himself unable to make an impact, and though he made it 40-30 in the seventh, Berdych found his rival in inspired form as Djokovic sent up a fine defensive lob from the back of the court to stretch his lead at 5-2.
Berdych, ranked sixth in the world, rarely showed his quality in the opening exchanges and Djokovic was handed the set when his rival hit a weak forehand low into the net.
Djokovic found Berdych more difficult to grind down in the second as the first five games were shared. But, from 30-0 Berdych squandered the sixth game with Djokovic taking four points on the spin to clinch the break.
Yet to face a break point on his serve, Djokovic served for the match but could not prevent Berdych from keeping the tie alive. A fine backhand down the line left Djokovic rooted to the spot, and with it Berdych squared the set at 5-5.
The accuracy of the Djokovic serve disappeared, and once Berdych had the luxury of a double break he went on to force a deciding set.
Berdych won an eighth game out of nine to break Djokovic early in the final set, and the Czech was able to maintain the advantage throughout the decider and seal a first victory over the Serb since Wimbledon 2010 on his fourth match point.
Rafael Nadal saw off a spirited David Ferrer in a clay quarter-final for the second time in a month as he defeated his fellow Spaniard 6-4 4-6 6-2 to advance.
World No. 4 Ferrer impressed against Nadal in the pair's last meet in the quarter-final of the Madrid Open earlier in May, but could not produce similar form to topple his opponent in the opening set.
Ferrer could not take advantage of an early break point, and was made to rue his chance as Nadal broke his compatriot in the next game before holding out to take the first.
However, Ferrer rallied in the second and raced into a four-game lead as Nadal seemed to ease off the gas. The seven-time French Open champion issued a series of lacklustre returns, allowing Ferrer not only a chance to level but to also gain vital momentum.
Ferrer squandered another opportunity to break which would have all but sealed the second, but Nadal fought back to level at five games apiece after some impressive defending at the net.
It was the net that proved decisive for Nadal, though, as the ball dropped his side of the court when Ferrer slammed his forehand return into the white trim, setting up break point. This time, Ferrer took his chance, scooping a forehand to the base of the court to level the match.
Nadal regained his composure in the decider and ultimately proved too strong once again for Ferrer, taking the early break and powering into a commanding lead.
From here, there was simply no way back for the number four seed as Nadal closed his 19th victory over his Ferrer in just under three hours on the Centrale Court.
It was by no means vintage tennis from Nadal, who will have to improve if he is to match the impressive Berdych.