For Tomas Berdych, yesterday must have felt as though he had just won the lottery. Not only did he end a seventeen match losing streak against Rafael Nadal with a dominating 6-2, 6-0, 7-6(5) performance but also booked his ticket into what will be just fourth Grand Slam semi-final appearance of his career.
Meaning the only thing now standing between him and his first finals appearance since Wimbledon 2010 is none other than Andy Murray. The same Andy Murray who so many seemed ready to write off after suffering through what was an extremely difficult 2014 season both on and off the court.
Isn’t funny how quickly things can turnaround?
Moving as well and playing as good as he ever has, the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist has truly become one of “the” stories of the 2015 Australian Open. After disposing of Grigor Dimitrov in the Round of Sixteen with a scintillating performance, Murray was every bit as good in bouncing teenager Nick Kyrgios in straight sets 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach his fifth semi-final in six years in Melbourne.
Using an extremely effective serve and his entire repertoire of shots, the No. 6 seed proved to be far too much for the Aussie youngster to handle. While Kyrgios was able to rally from being two sets down against Andreas Seppi in order to reach the quarterfinals, there would be no such comeback against the two-time major winner.
No matter what came his way, Murray had all the answers. After jumping out to an early lead cruising to what was a rather routine opening set lead, the twenty-seven year old was made work in set number two and had to be at his very best in order to grab a two set lead. If not for a couple of world-class lobs late in the tiebreaker, this could have been a completely different match but make them he did.
As good as Murray looked in advancing, the No. 3 seed looked equally as poor in falling for the fourth time in his career at this very stage during the year's first major. While Berdych delivered a near flawless performance, Nadal was downright dreadful through the opening couple of sets. No matter what did, nothing seemed to work and the talented Czech was more the happy to pounce on the opportunity.
To his credit, the fourteen-time Grand Slam winner rebounded with a far better showing in set number three but was ultimately fell in what turned out to be a fairly close tiebreaker. It certainly was a disappointing finish for the Spaniard but one that doesn’t come as complete shock.
While Rafa had his fair share of ups and downs through the first four rounds, Berdych had been in complete control of each and every one of his matches. In fact, only he and top seed Novak Djokovic have yet to lose set and one would have to think the ten-time ATP Tour winner will get a major boost from beating Nadal for the first time since way back in 2006.