Nadal dispatches Berdych to set up Murray semi-final
Rafael Nadal was in ominous form to dispatch Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 on Friday and set up an ATP World Tour semi-final clash with Andy Murray on Saturday.
Berdych matched the world number one in an absorbing first set in some pulsating rallies. At 15-15, with the score on serve at 5-6, Nadal unleashed an out-of-character tirade against the umpire.
A deep shot by Berdych was called out, but as a result of a challenge the umpire rewarded the point to the Czech instead of replaying the point. Nadal was furious, claiming he had a play on the ball and storming off the court to contest with the tournament supervisor Tom Barnes. But the call stood.
The umpire and Berdych were both adamant that Nadal had challenged by pointing upwards a split second after he hit the ball and before the line judge had called the ball as out.
Nadal said: “I didn’t make a challenge, he called the ball out. Maybe I stopped a little bit because the ball was really close. I did something like this (putting hand up) but I never said ‘stop’. To stop the point you have to say ‘stop’.
“If I don’t see the umpire saying ‘out’ I’m going to continue for sure because it’s a big risk for me to say the ball is out.”
Berdych, on the other hand, said: “It just shows the referee is probably scared of him and just let him talk too long. It’s not the mistake of Rafa, it’s the mistake of the referee.
“He just needed to show him that it’s not like he can do whatever he wants on the court. It was just a normal call so I don’t know why he was taking so long.”
The decision spurred the raging Nadal to close out the set in style with some hard hitting aggressive tactics in the tie break. The top seed continued his impressive form in London with 70 per cent of first serves in and smashed 27 winners past the despairing Berdych.
This was by far Berdych’s best match of the tournament and though the scoreline does him no favours, 32 unforced errors and a first serve rate of 46 per cent was never going to be sufficient against a Nadal searching for the only major title to have eluded him to date.
The second set was much of a precession as Nadal blasted Berdych off the court. The result means both Federer and Nadal have escaped their round robin group matches with 100 per cent records ahead of a possible top-seed final on Sunday.
The final place in Saturday’s line-up went down to Novak Djokovic after he defeated Andy Roddick in the evening session. The Serb needed a set to progress whilst Roddick needed a win in straight sets.
Unfortunately for the spectacle, a tired Roddick was unable to cope with Djokovic’s fierce play and the world number three strolled to a 6-2 6-3 victory in just over an hour.