Tomas Berdych snapped his long-running drought against Rafael Nadal, smashing him in their Australian Open quarter-final.
Tomas Berdych snapped his long-running drought against Rafael Nadal, smashing him in their Australian Open quarter-final on Tuesday.
In a scoreboard seen to be believed, Berdych stopped a run of 17 straight defeats to Nadal with a 6-2 6-0 7-6 (7-5) victory at Melbourne Park.
Nadal was rumoured to be battling an ankle injury but Berdych was unrelenting - dominating behind his own powerful serve, and producing five breaks of Nadal's to dictate terms from the outset and celebrate victory after two hours and 13 minutes.
Berdych dined out on Nadal's second serve - winning 15 of 21 points - and helped himself to 46 winners to Nadal's 24.
The first two sets were close to non-competitive - Nadal won just 10 points in the second - before a third-set tussle.
It went the way of Berdych, who maintained his perfect record at Melbourne Park this fortnight, having yet to concede a set on his way to the semi-finals.
Nadal blew a forehand long to leave Berdych with two set points, and a backhand winner saw the seventh seed seal the opener with surprising ease in 35 minutes.
Break opportunities were as many for Nadal as Berdych in the first set - both had two - but the Czech defended his serve better.
Nadal's own defence improved early in the second, a reflex volley saw him save his first break point of the match - but Berdych was handed a 2-0 lead when Nadal netted a backhand at 30-40.
A rudimentary forehand winner for 15-15 in the fourth game of the set - Nadal was trailing 3-0 at the time - saw a big reaction from the Mallorcan.
But he would not avoid going down double break-point, and Berdych was handed a 4-0 lead on a platter courtesy of Nadal's second double fault of the game.
While the Spaniard was battling on his own ball, Berdych was cruising on his - winning 12 of 13 points when landing his first serve for the set.
Nadal simply had no answers, and a return backhand winner from Berdych sealed the second-set rout - his 11th winner of the set, and 20th of the match, which had only lasted one hour at that point.
It was only the third instance of Nadal losing a set without winning a game at grand slam level - Roger Federer (Wimbledon 2006) and Andy Roddick (US Open 2004) the others to achieve such a feat against the Spaniard.
Berdych made it nine straight games with a hold to start the third but Nadal stopped the rot to hold for 1-1 - much to the delight of the Rod Laver Arena faithful.
The third set did not see a break-point chance until the eighth game but Nadal survived the danger with an ace and held for 4-4.
Berdych, similarly, delivered an unreturnable serve and an ace on the two break points he faced in the ninth game, which he held to put the pressure on Nadal.
The world number three held on in the 10th game, and saved two match points in the 12th to force a tie-break.
Nadal's resistance looked to have caved when 5-1 down but he brought it back to 6-5 - before his return of a Berdych second serve found the tape to hand the Czech victory.