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Berdych topples Nadal
October 21, 2006 08:30 IST
Tomas Berdych ended Rafael Nadal's hopes of retaining his Madrid Masters title by producing a near flawless display to beat the world number two 6-3, 7-6 in the quarter-finals on Friday.
The Czech number one was in imperious form at the Madrid Arena, holding his serve with confidence and then taking his opportunities to break his opponent's and record his third consecutive win over the Spaniard.
The 21-year-old, who beat sixth-seed Andy Roddick on his way to the quarters, silenced the partisan Spanish fans when he eased his way to the first set.
The 10,000 strong crowd got behind Nadal in the second set, but Berdych kept his cool to keep up the pressure and win through after a nerve-racking tiebreak.
"More important than the victory was the fact that I showed I can beat him at home in Spain," said the 11th seed. "I like his game and was happy to use the advantage of the hard court to win."
Berdych will meet 10th seeded Chilean Fernando Gonzalez who dug deep to come from 5-2 down in the third set to claim a nip-and-tuck 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 over 19-year-old Serb Novak Djokovic.
Gonzalez pulled out some incredible shots when his opponent was serving for the match and kept his nerve to reach his fourth Masters semi-final of the year.
World number one Roger Federer stayed on target for his 10th title of the year with a clinical 6-3, 7-6 win over unseeded American Robby Ginepri to book his place in the semis.
The 25-year-old Swiss, who has never won the Madrid title, faces world number four David Nalbandian in the semis after the Argentine beat Marat Safin 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.
Although Ginepri played high-quality tennis, he was unable to match Federer on the big points.
Federer pounced on the first break opportunity to go 5-3 up before serving out to take the opening set. It was again level-pegging in the second until the Swiss moved up a gear to snatch the tiebreak.
The victory was Federer's 80th of the year and extended his winning streak to 17 matches.
"It's great to get another win and it's a sign of the hard work paying off," he told reporters. "I'm very proud to have walked off the court 80 times as a winner and only five as a loser. It means a lot to me."
Nalbandian claimed only his second victory in eight matches against Russian Safin to gain revenge for defeat in the 2004 final in Madrid.
"I'm getting better with every match but I'll need to be in even better form for tomorrow as it will be very tough," said the Argentine, who has a 6-6 career record with Federer.
The 24-year-old Nalbandian took advantage of a succession of forehand errors to put Safin under early pressure and take the first set.
Safin, who has recovered to 49th in the world after dropping out of the top 100 this year, rallied to square the match on a tiebreak.
There was nothing between the players in the final set and it boiled down to another tiebreak, won this time by Nalbandian.
The Argentine has now moved up to sixth in the ATP Champions Race, boosting his chances of qualifying for the Masters Cup in Shanghai next month, a title he won last year.