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Berdych stuns Nadal in Toronto
August 11, 2006 10:31 IST
Rafael Nadal was upset by Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer survived a scare in the Toronto Masters third round on Thursday, ending hopes of a dream final between the world's top two players.
Playing their first tournament since meeting in the Wimbledon final, both Federer and Nadal displayed signs of rust from their month-long breaks.
In Nadal's case the layoff proved lethal, the Spaniard unable to find any rhythm in a 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 loss to Czech Tomas Berdych, only his sixth defeat of the season.
Federer, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday, looked ready to move back into top gear with routine wins in the opening two rounds but was less impressive in a 6-3, 5-7, 6-0 victory over Russia's Dimtry Tursunov to reach the quarter-finals.
The world's two top-ranked players, Federer and Nadal have met in five finals this year and had appeared headed for another showdown on Sunday.
"Honestly, I wasn't thinking of a rematch between the two of us because the road is just too long to the finals for the both of us," Federer told reporters. "I was happy the way I scrambled. It's just here and there I don't feel like my balance is quite right.
"Maybe it's not obvious, it's just a feeling I have.
"That's going to come the more time I spend at tournaments.
"I was happy the way I closed out the third set because it was getting tough in the second."
While Nadal had also advanced to the third round with minimum fuss, there were signs of rust all over his game which Berdych exploited to the full.
The match was a contrast of styles and physiques, the muscular Spaniard taking on the lanky 14th-ranked Czech in a tense center court battle that lasted one hour, 48 minutes.
Seeking his first title of the season, Berdych made an impressive start, breaking Nadal early and sweeping through the opening set.
The Spaniard responded by breaking Berdych at the first opportunity in the second set, thumping his chest with a clenched fist as the crowd at the Rexall Center roared its approval.
With the match level at 1-1, Nadal scolded himself during the changeover but his pep talk did not help as Berdych came out and broke the French Open champion at the first opportunity and stormed into a 3-0 lead.
The Czech then completed the upset in style, breaking Nadal a second time to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
"That's the risks (you take with a layoff)," Nadal said. "But even if I played in Bastad, Stuttgart, I could come here and still lose to Berdych.
"I can't play every week in the final. I lost in the third round against a very good player."
Earlier, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez booked his place in the quarter-finals, outlasting fourth seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 in a three-hour center court marathon. Britain's Andy Murray continued his excellent run, easing past former French Open champion Carlos Moya of Spain 6-2, 6-4.
With new coach Brad Gilbert watching from the stands, Murray, who reached his second final of the year last week in Washington before losing to Arnaud Clement, needed just 76 minutes to secure a place in his first Masters series quarter-final.
The 19-year-old Briton will play Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, who advanced with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 win over Italy's Davide Sanguinetti.
Young Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who upset fifth-seeded American James Blake in the second round, advanced with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 win over Spain's Fernando Verdasco. Argentine Jose Acasuso dispatched France's Julien Benneteau 6-3, 7-6.