Rafael Nadal punches the air in delight after beating Tomas Berdych to book his place in the Australian Open semi-finals. Aaron Favila/AP/Press Association Images
australian open

Nadal battles into semi-final showdown with Federer

Rafael Nadal is through to the Australian Open semi-finals after he ground out a four-set win against Tomas Berdych today.

Dennis Passa, AP

RAFAEL NADAL’S INSTINCTIVE victory roar told you everything you needed to know about his quarter-final win over Tomas Berdych. It was hard work.

The Spaniard was made to battle for every point as he came from behind to beat the seventh-seeded Berdych 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-6), 6-4, 6-3 and set up an Australian Open semi-final against Roger Federer.

For the first time since 2005, Nadal and Federer are on the same half of the draw at a grand slam event. But for a brief while this afternoon, the dream semi-final looked as though it might not even happen.

The Spaniard found himself on the back foot in an tempestuous opening set, where he was forced to save four set points – including one on an amazing cross-court passing shot on the 29th point of a rally — before Berdych held firm to win the ensuing tiebreaker.

During the tiebreaker, a Berdych shot landed out, and Nadal returned it, then challenged. Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes wouldn’t allow the challenge because Nadal hadn’t immediately stopped play, but Nadal responded by saying he didn’t challenge immediately because he thought the linesman had called it out.

The replay showed the ball was out.

“Carlos, I’ll tell you something, you never get one right, not one correct overrule,” Nadal said in Spanish. “You’re not here as a spectator. You know that ball was out.”

Nadal was still debating the issue at his post-match news conference.


Later in the match, Bernardes had a brief discussion with Berdych when the Czech player complained about an apparent “flat” ball. And in the fourth set, Nadal chastised the chair umpire again for allowing a challenge by Berdych, feeling the Czech player waited too long before asking for a review.

In the opening game of the fourth set, Nadal hit consecutive down-the-line forehands to break Berdych’s service and the Spaniard was on his way to clinch the match in 4 hours, 16 minutes.

Nadal said he changed his strategy after losing the first set.

“I started moving a little bit inside the court after I went 20 meters behind the baseline, just trying to find solution,” Nadal said. “At the end of the match, I finished it returning fantastic.”

Berdych said his performance “was only good, which means that is not enough with Rafa.”

Tomorrow, Andy Murray meets 24th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan for a place in the semi-finals against either world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic or fifth seed David Ferrer of Spain.

– Additional reporting by Niall Kelly

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Associated Foreign Press