The second semi-final pair at Sony Open Tennis 2014 will consist of World no. 1 Rafael Nadal and seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych. The triple Miami finalist faced a tough opposition in the quarter-final match today as he dropped the opener against Canada’s Milos Raonic, but he regrouped in time to squeeze into the last four after two hours and thirty-five minutes of play. Despite generating more break point chances than his rival, it was Rafa who suffered a crucial loss of serve in the tenth game of the opener and lost the set as a result. The Spaniard responded in a superb fashion by creating a double break cushion early in the following set to eventually level the terms. He continued with a consistent display in the decider where he broke the deadline in the seventh game and denied the big-serving Canadian any chances to cause an upset. Nadal ultimately completed his comeback with a love hold for a narrow 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory. Raonic smashed 8 aces over the course of the quarter-final (only three in the final two sets), but has also conceded 5 double faults, whilst the top seed will be satisfied with a 75% first serve efficiency (Raonic 55%) and by claiming 57% of second serve rallies.
“For me to be in semi-finals after losing early in Indian Wells is very important for my confidence,” said Nadal. “The difference between quarter-finals and semi-finals is a lot, and tomorrow I have another day to try to keep playing better.”
Although 22nd-seeded Aleksandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine has been playing in an admirable form over the last few weeks, he was unable to repeat the recent Indian Wells success as he stumbled against Berdych who rallied from down in both of the sets. The Ukrainian made his mark on the match straight away by breaking in the opening game, yet his Czech opponent clawed right back to make it 1-1. Berdych’s pressure continued in the middle of the set and has finally paid off in the tenth game when he forced Dolgopolov to surrender his second service game. The latter got extremely close to square things up when serving for the set number two following the fourth game break, yet the Birdman turned the tide once again by saving a set point and prevailing in the subsequent tie-break. The Miami 2010 runner-up advanced by winning 6-4, 7-6 (3).
“It was a very tricky opponent,” said Berdych. “Even the conditions were not the perfect way that I really like. It was quite windy, so it was…a little bit more difficult. But I handled it quite well.”