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Berdych stuns Nadal in straight sets

By EMN Updated: Jan 27, 2015 10:13 pm

Melbourne, January27

Tomas Berdych ended a 17-match losing streak to shock an out-of-sorts third seed Rafael Nadal in straight sets to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The Czech won three of his first four meetings with the 14-time Grand Slam champion but had not tasted victory over the Spaniard since 2006, his 17 straight defeats equalling a record in the open era.The seventh seed came through in straight sets 6-2 6-0 7-6 (7-5) and will face either Britain’s Andy Murray or Australian Nick Krygios for a place in the final.
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 No 3 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, I set up my plan pretty well and stuck with that all the way through the three sets,” Berdych said in an on-court interview. “I was expecting a very tough battle but I was ready for everything and I think that was the biggest difference.
“I started pretty well but you are playing Rafa and you have to really keep going until the last point. You have to be ready for everything. He is a great fighter but I stayed focused and kept doing my stuff and it was working pretty good.”
Nine-time French Open champion 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 racket.
He got back into the third set which went to a tiebreaker but Berdych’s big forehand proved too strong.
Berdych praised the influence of new coach Dani Vallverdu, who previously helped Murray win Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Wimbledon.
“I’ve been really happy with how we work together so far but the good thing is I am already able to execute the things on the court,” Berdych added. “It works well. We set up a great plan for today and it worked so what could be better?”

Nadal offers no excuses for ‘very bad’ defeat

MELBOURNE, January 27

Rafael Nadal did not look for excuses after a limp Australian Open exit to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, one of the worst Grand Slam performances in his long career.
The Spanish world number three crashed out 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) against the Czech seventh seed he had beaten the last 17 times they met.
He narrowly avoided tumbling to his worst Grand Slam result on the number of games won. He won only six games against Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinal at the 2009 US Open.
Nadal also had the embarrassment of a ‘bagel’ in the second set, his first at a Grand Slam since against Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon final.
These are low points that do not sit comfortably with the proud 14-time Grand Slam champion, one of the fiercest competitors in men’s tennis.
Asked about his ‘so-so’ match, Nadal quickly corrected the reporter, “No, not a so-so game today, it was very bad. You can say that, no problem.”
“I am feeling okay, it was just not my day. I didn’t play with the right intensity, with the right rhythm, and the opponent played better than me,” he added.
“In sport, when you are going to play against an opponent, there will be a time the opponent plays better than me. I helped him a lot in the beginning. It’s easier to play well when you are up in the score, one break up, two breaks up from the beginning of every set. That’s a big deal, big difference.”
Nadal, who has in the last six years not added to his only Australian title in 2009, looked out of sorts and his serve was broken five times, along with firing six double faults.
He could only muster 24 winners and made more unforced errors (26) with the third seed not able to convert his four break point opportunities.
“I am not very happy because I didn’t compete the way I wanted to compete in the first two sets and that’s something that I don’t like,” he said.
“That’s sport. I lost the third set. He’s happier than me in the locker room.”
Despite losing Nadal, who entered the tournament following a three-month injury layoff, said he would take some positives out of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.
“I have to take the positive things. Without being at my top level of tennis I was able to get to the quarter-finals,” he said, referring to the right wrist injury that kept him out of action.”
“It’s not a bad result at all for me arriving here with only with five matches in seven months. So that’s the positive thing that I have to take. That it’s just the beginning of the season and I want to keep having chances to compete well against everybody.”
“I need to keep working the way that I am doing to be ready for the next tournament. The season is long, beginnings are tough. I need to be ready to accept all the situations that happen and try to be strong.”

By EMN Updated: Jan 27, 2015 10:13:16 pm