Tomas Berdych’s big setback of 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals was the talking point of Day 9 of the Australian Open. The Czech who had lost to Rafa 17 times in a row put up a determined display to stun the world number three in straight sets. He will next face Andy Murray who defeated rising star Nick Kyrgios.
Amongst the top women stars, five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova rolled into the last-four stage with a victory over Eugenie Bouchard. But it was the end of the road for third seed Simona Halep who was defeated by Ekaterina Makarova.
Tomas Berdych snaps losing streak
The last time that world number seven Tomas Berdych had beaten Rafael Nadal was way back in the 2006 Madrid quarter-finals. Since then it’s been 17 straight wins for the Spaniard. But on Tuesday at the Australian Open, the Czech came with a plan and most importantly executed it with perfection.
Serving big, he was thoroughly aggressive and returned early thus robbing Rafa of his precious timing. What was heartening to see was that Berdych was able to maintain his composure throughout. He took a two-sets-to-love lead and it was only in the third set that the 2009 champion Nadal actually started showing his competitive spirit for the first time.
Rafa forced a tie-break after saving match points but despite putting his best efforts, Tomas Berdych was able to close out the match with a 6-2, 6-0, 7-6(5) win. This is his second semi-final at Melbourne Park.
A disappointed Rafa offered no excuse and admitted he had no intensity:
“I am feeling okay, it was just not my day. I didn’t play with the right intensity, with the right rhythm, and the opponent played better than me.”
Berdych will challenge three-time runner-up Andy Murray for a place in the Australian Open final.
Murray ends Australian hopes
He is 19 and is already prospering on the big stage. Naturally, Nick Kyrgios had raised hopes of a home-grown champion at the Australian Open. But on Tuesday experience prevailed as Andy Murray broke the hearts of the crowd with a 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 triumph.
After losing the first set, the young Aussie managed to keep up the pace with Murray as the second set headed to a tie-break. But the two-time Slam winner raised his game at the crucial moments and snatched a two-set lead.
In the third set, Kyrgios who came back from two sets down in the fourth round, started showing signs of fatigue. That paved the way for the British number one to assert his supremacy and take the win. This will be Murray’s fifth Australian Open semi-final.
Sharapova wins battle of blondes
It was a much-hyped quarter-final clash between former champion Maria Sharapova and her successor, Eugenie Bouchard. And once again, it was the master who came through with flying colours as Sharapova won easily 6-3, 6-2.
Maria Sharapova who came back from the edge in her second round match, was on fire on Tuesday. Her last Grand Slam encounter with the Canadian had gone the distance and she didn’t want to take any chance. The world number two put up a solid display to break Bouchard twice in both the sets and take the victory. The Russian reached the semis in Melbourne for the seventh time.
She faces fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova who ended the challenge of Simona Halep.
Simona Halep upset
There’s something about Ekaterina Makarova and the Australian Open. For years, she has accounted for many of the top seeds at Melbourne Park and this time it included the third seed Simona Halep.
The left-handed eleventh seed came out swinging freely from the start and made things absolutely difficult for the Romanian. Halep looked totally out of sorts and found no way to stop Makarova from reaching her second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final. Makarova triumphed 6-4, 6-0 to reach the last-four stage for the first time in Australia.
Quarter-final action will continue in singles with the Williams sisters, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka each looking to procure a semi-final berth. Amongst the Indians stars, both Leander Paes and Sania Mirza will seek a place in the mixed doubles semis. Also Sumit Nagal will be in action in the juniors.
Previous Match Reports
Check all the links to our previous Australian Open match reports here.