Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) is now just 1 win away from regaining the No.1 Ranking spot. The Spaniard took on World No. 19 Fabio Fognini in the China Open quarter-finals, recovering from a set and a break down to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in a highly entertaining match. Nadal continues to dominate on the hard courts and is yet to be defeated on this surface in 2013 as he hopes to win his 11th title of the season and return to the top of the rankings for the first time since 3rd July 2011.
There will of course be added pressure for Nadal as he will be playing for more than just a place in the Beijing final, with Berdych ready to throw everything he’s got at the Spaniard. The Czech is known best for his big serve and flat hitting so breaking the serve could prove tricky for the 2nd seed. He lacked a bit of consistency and focus in his last match against Fabio, but eventually managed to fight his way through. The major factor in his triumph at the US Open was his serve though, making it all the way to the semi-finals without being broken. What was once his weakness became the strongest aspect of his game. However, Rafa will need to step it up a bit when he squares off against Berdych, who is yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament.
Tomas Berdych (Player Profile) will hope to defy the odds stacking against him and take it to the potential World No. 1. Should the big serving Czech prevail, he will get a chance to repeat his title win from 2010 when defeating Marin Cilic in the final. Berdych will be looking to improve his serve – 83% points won on his first serve against John Isner in his 7-5, 6-2 may seem impressive, but he only made 45% of those first serves, with his second serve points won at just 40%. However, when it came to converting break points, he was the man of the hour, taking 5 out of 8 chances.
The 15-3 Head to Head record in Nadal’s favor makes him the overwhelming favourite. Taking a set would be something which Berdych hasn’t done since the 2012 Australian Open clash, with his last victory against Nadal happening way back in 2006 at the Madrid Masters.