Berdych stuns Nadal to qualify for AO semis


MELBOURNE: Czech Tomas Berdych stunned out-of-sorts third seed Rafael Nadal in straight sets to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The seventh seed beat the Spanish 14-time Grand Slam champion 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) in 2hr 13min and will face either Britain’s Andy Murray or Australian Nick Krygios for a place in the final.

It ended a 17-match winning run Nadal had over Berdych, who claimed his second consecutive semi-final appearance in Melbourne after losing to Stan Wawrinka last year.

Only Bjorn Borg over Vitas Gerulaitis and Ivan Lendl against Tim Mayotte had chalked up 17-match head-to-head winning streaks on the ATP Tour.

Nadal’s performance was so ordinary that he narrowly avoided crashing to his worst Grand Slam result on the number of games won. He won only six games against Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-final at the 2009 US Open.

The world number three also failed to win a game in the second set for his first ‘bagel’ at a Grand Slam since against Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon final and Andy Roddick in the second round at the 2004 US Open.

This was the 30th Grand Slam since he was ‘bageled’ by Federer nine years ago.

“I was definitely ready for it and set up my plan pretty well and I stuck with that through those three sets,” Berdych said.

“I was expecting a very tough battle but I was ready for everything and I think that was the biggest thing from the past matches with Rafa.

“I started pretty well, but you are playing Rafa and you have to keep going until the last point.”

Nadal, who won the Australian title in 2009, looked out of sorts and his serve was broken five times to fall behind two sets to love.

Berdych swooped on the limp Spaniard, reeling off a backhand return winner for the second set after just one hour on court.

Nadal lost nine straight games before he held service in the second game of the third set, with plenty of concerned looks in his player box courtside as the errors kept flowing off his racquet.

He got back into the third set which went to a tiebreaker but Berdych’s big forehand proved too strong. (AFP)