Tomas Berdych has coasted to a semi final place in the Australian Open, comprehensively beating Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (7-5) to end a 17 match-losing streak against the world number 3. He will face British number one Andy murray in the semi final.
The 29-year-old Czech - who is yet to drop a set in the tournament - was efficient in the first two sets, dispatching a under-prepared and under-performing Nadal.
Although his opponent looked to mount a come back in the third set, Berdych maintained composure and temperament - something that often fails the Czech - to see himself through to the semi finals.
Nobody beats the Berd 18 times
Proving that nobody beats Tomas Berdych 18 times in a row, a jovial Berdych told Reuters when asked if anyone had beat him 18 successive time: “Well, no. I did win so…”
“It feels great.
“The really good thing is the plan we put together was the right one.”
"The really good thing is the plan we put together was the right one"
Having missed a large portion of the latter part of 2014 - playing just seven matches in the last six months - today was Nadal’s first top ten match since he won a record ninth French Open title against Novak Djokovic.
Nadal was far from his physical best, looking out of sorts and seemed to be having some problems with his right hamstring. He had warned, rather pragmatically, before the tournament that he should not be considered a favourite following a wrist injury and surgery on his appendix.
Earlier in the tournament Nadal faced a narrow escape against Tim Smyczek, where he suffered from cramp, and appeared to have renewed issues with his back today. Refusing to blame the defeat on any physical problems Nadal told the BBC after the match: “It was just not my day. I didn’t play with the right intensity.”
Today marks the first occasion that the Spaniard has been handed a ‘bagel’ since 2011, and only the third time in his career that he has been beaten 6-0 in a Grand Slam.
Big Serve Downs Nadal
Caught out by the Czech’s big serve, Nadal repeatedly dropped too deep, returning serves from no-man's land to allow Berdych to smash 46 winners in court. Playing into the wold number 7's hands by being too conservative, Nadal's passivity allowed Berdych to attack the Spaniard, which prevented any long rallies on the Czech's formidable serve.
“I make him play very easy. So you cannot expect to win matches in quarter-finals of grand slam helping the opponent play well,” said the world number three.
"I make him play very easy. So you cannot expect to win matches in quarter-finals of grand slam helping the opponent play well"
Nadal won just two games in the first hour of play, failing to earn any points on his second serve until midway through the third set. The world number 3 had his service game attacked by Berdych, who was also dominant of his own.
The 14-time grand slam champion did revive in the third set, and could have taken it to a fourth set if he had converted his two break points at 4-4. He did manage to hold to save two match points at 15-40 to take the last set to a tie breaker, but could not hold off a massive second serve from Berdych on a second match point.
Sharapova proves too much for Bouchard
Elsewhere Maria Sharapova marched over Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 18 minutes, setting up a semi final against compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.
The second seed put in a clinical performance against an error strewn Bouchard, who made 30 unforced errors in 78 minutes.
“I though I had a really good start,” said Sharapova.
“I kept my focus throughout.”
A disappointed Bouchard said: “I felt under pressure the whole time, a bit on my back foot. That’s not how I want to play. I feel like I didn’t start well, and it kind of all went down hill from there.”