They were the results most tennis fans were expecting to see but as we all know, anything can happen at a Grand Slam event. While Tomas Berdych continued to impress with a rather comfortable 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic during what was the seventh day of competition at the 2015 Australian Open, it was the ease with which Rafael Nadal powered his way past Kevin Anderson that was a bit surprising.
Under normal circumstances, watching the number three seed cruise to a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the towering South African would have been no big deal. However, with the Spaniard still trying to find his game following his minimal activity since falling to Nick Kyrgios at last year’s Wimbledon Championship and the number 14 seed playing some of the best tennis of his career, this one had all the makings of being a tight match.
After carrying the play for much of the opening set, Anderson had triple break point at 5-5 but was unable to convert. To make matters worse, he would squander two more opportunities before the fourteen-time Grand Slam winner righted the ship to hold and immediately followed it up with a break of serve to claim the set.
Not surprisingly, Anderson would see his level of play slip after allowing what was a golden opportunity to slip through his fingers. To his credit, Nadal would seize the moment and steamroll his opponent in set number two before he even knew what hit him. From that point on, the former world number one put it into cruise control to advance to the quarterfinals for the eighth time in nine years, the only exception being 2013 when he missed the event due to illness.
While Rafael was putting the finishing touches on his Round of Sixteen victory over at Rod Laver Arena, the number seven seed was doing the same over at Margaret Court Arena. As much as the crowd wanted to see Tomic push for potential spot in the final eight, Berdych wasted little time in taking control of their fourth round showdown.
After dropping the opening set in twenty-eight minutes, the young Australian bounced back with a strong second but was unable to outlast his opponent in what turned out to be a crucial tiebreaker. With the win Berdych will now make his fifth consecutive quarterfinal appearance at the year’s first major and will be looking to match his semi-final appearance from a year ago.
Considering Nadal holds a career mark of 18-3 against the Czech number one in head-to-head competition and is currently on a seventeen match win streak, the ten-time ATP Tour winner could have a tough time duplicating last year’s showing.