Berdych Beatdown, Sharapova Steamrolls at Australian Open
by Staff | January 22nd, 2013, 8:29 am

If this was Tomas Berdych’s best shot to beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, then this Czech is on hold.

Coming off a five-hour match in the previous round against Stan Wawrinka, Djokovic showed an astounding physical recovery to defeated the No. 5-seeded Berdych in roughly half that time 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen him play way better,” said Berdych, who rued his chances. “He played really good today. But the matches before [against me] he played much, much better. It was kind of a chance for me, but I didn’t come up with my best game and that’s what was deciding today.”

Djokovic, still on track for what would be an Open Era record third Australian Open title in a row, will in the semifinals meet No. 4 seed David Ferrer, who came back from a set down and more to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-2.

Almagro served for the match at 5-4 in the third and 6-5 in the fourth, but could not reach match point.

“I’m [disappointed] with the tiebreak, but I need to work more to be ready to play with the top players,” Almagro said. “Today was a big opportunity for me. I’m going to work to be ready for the next.”

Ferrer improved to 13-0 career against Almagro.

“I tried to fight every point, every game,” Ferrer said. “I know all players in important moments are nervous. I try to do my best. Today I was close to losing. But finally I came back.”
Djokovic is 9-5 career versus Ferrer, and won their most recent meeting at the 2012 US Open in the semifinals.

Maria Sharapova bullied her way into the semifinals as she has done against the majority of opponents during this fortnight, on Tuesday defeating Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2.
“She’s beaten quality players over the course of the last week, and I know she’s capable of playing really well, with some deep hitting,” said the No. 2-seeded Sharapova. “Also she’s a lefty, which is a bit tricky.”

Makarova said eventually during the match she simply gave up on beating the former No. 1.
“It’s really tough to play against her right now,” she said. “In the end I just fought for the games, because I already thought it would be tough to beat her. I just tried to get more games.”

Sharapova has now lost only nine games prior to the semifinals, where she will next face No. 6-seeded Li Na of China, who beat softballer Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3.
“I was feeling my legs couldn’t move — when I started serving again at the beginning of the second set I felt like I was totally dying,” Li said. “It was hard to recover, but after two games it started getting better and better.”

After a tight first set, Li eventually broke Radwanska down with her superior power while cutting down on the errors.
“I felt like I was playing against a wall,” Li said. “She can hit everywhere, but without a mistake. You have to focus on every shot. Not even just every point — every shot. And if you hit a slow or a short one, she’ll attack.”
Li and Sharapova will have no problems remembering each other’s games.
“We just played in Beijing,” Sharapova said of Li. “I’ve beaten her the last few times we’ve played, but they’ve always been really good matches, really tough matches. I certainly expect it in the next one too.”

On tap for Wednesday in quarterfinal play is a bonanza of riches featuring (1) Victoria Azarenka vs. former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova, (3) Serena Williams vs. Sloane Stephens in an all-American, (3) Andy Murray vs. Jeremy Chardy, and (7) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (2) Roger Federer.


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12 Comments for Berdych Beatdown, Sharapova Steamrolls at Australian Open

Brando Says:

Interesting that berdych thinks nole has been better. IMO he had a chance going into the match but due to his mental frailty he never really was ever going to make much of it.

Humble Rafa Says:

Choky Spaniard couldn’t hold on. Good player, but not great. Tier 3. The Unkempt one, the winner, is tier 2.

Skeezer Says:

Birdsh!t said he has the best FH in the game. He showed it to Nole in this match. It was awesome, and everyone saw how awesome it was. By the way, who won the match?

alison Says:

Skeezer indeed nice to see him brought down a peg or two.

Michael Says:

Skeezer, It is players like Novak who bring in the humility quotient from players like Berdych by giving the belting they need. It is a check on their arrogance. Two days before, Roger did it to Tomic and now Novak has returned the same favour to Berdych. This treatment definitely works.

van orten Says:

berdych is not that good..he won vs fed a couple of times at gs but we all know and that last match vs nole should be proof enough..he won vs roger because roger was completely out of form for that particular match…fed murray rafa and nole play normal form and bye bye berdychhh…thats why i was so pissed when fed lost at us open..knowing that it was his underperformance and not berdych who won it… at least he can say one day i won vs the goat out of form but lost almost always against the other top 4 because i am just not good enough

jane Says:

Glad to see Nole won; sounds like his form was quite up and down. Missed the match as was during the middle of night. *mat4 – THANK YOU! That blog was excellent for catching up on how the match played out. Lots of details, opinions and stats. I hope to catch the match later, after work. Was nice to read this about a game during the 4th set, for example: “The highlight of the game was Djokovic handing Berdych a 1st serve after the Czech badly missed a delivery when some drunk fans kept screaming during his service motion. Sportsmanship!”

Nole’s now second behind Fed at consecutive semifinals of grand slams reached (11), so even if he doesn’t win here at least he kept those two streaks in tact, which is kinda cool.

DA, Margot, I notice that Murray’s moving up on those lists too. He’s at 5th for semis tied with Rafa and others, and he’s at 6th for quarters, just one behind match Sampras for 5th.

Just goes to show, again, how consistent this “big 4” is!

thark Says:

I watched the Nico/Ferru match in full and I have to say it was a very disappointing ending. Almagro aggravated an already sore adductor, and proceeded to play this up with extraordinary drama – neither retiring nor giving much sincere effort, but instead constantly playing the injury up to the crowd and making it clear that he had given up all hope by shaking his head, rubbing his groin, offering dejected smiles. I got the impression he was trying to make the injury seem more severe so that others would think it played a role in his inability to close out the match in the 3rd. It was obvious to anyone that saw the full match that he was moving VERY well in the 3rd set and had several big opportunities for a first win against his countryman. Ferrer held on when it mattered most and Nico proceeded to fritter away his advantage of 2 sets and a break. Once it went to a 4th he took on the demeanor of a child who simply didn’t feel like playing anymore. Even before the “injury” worsened, one sensed that he didn’t feel like killing himself for 5 sets, and he certainly didn’t feel like dealing with a potentially more ferocious opponent in the next round. He played out the 5th set with a certain showiness, as if he was doing Ferrer a big favor by letting him win the match properly, but it seemed terribly insincere. It was as if he cared more about how the crowd perceived him than what Ferrer thought, and he cared infinitely more about both of those things than he did about playing the best tennis he could under the circumstances. I have no doubt the injury was real – but I also have no doubt that, given a similar injury, Ferrer would have acted very differently.

There were two interesting exchanges that I noticed: the first came during the changeover before Ferrer served it out. Nico walked very close to him and hit Ferrer lightly on the thigh with his racquet. I don’t know the dynamic between those two but he seemed to be trying to say something about his decision to give up the match – sort of a “thanks for putting up with this buddy” type gesture. Interestingly, Ferrer refused to make eye contact or acknowledge him in any way. A similar thing happened after the match as Almagro left the court. He gave Ferrer a firm pat on the bum as he went by – again David feigned that he was oblivious. I don’t think he was very pleased by the whole charade and it didn’t seem to be the first time Nico had rubbed him the wrong way.

Margot Says:

@ thark
I noticed that at the end too, thought it quite weird. Don’t think I’ve seen many players not bother to chase down every ball, even the last from a losing position, before.
He seemed to be smiling rather too much too.

andrea Says:

did anyone really think that berdych would win last nights match? i also don’t think ferrer will win against novak. something about that group of players when they face the top guys… tough to squeak out a win.

not sure about the dynamic with ferrer and almagro. ferrer was on the ropes and was probably trying to keep focused during the tie break and before the fifth set started, but i agree that almagro seemed bizarrely happy to be on the court in the fifth set and not doing much to win the match. crappy loss for him.

Jonathan @ peRFect Tennis Says:

Djoker is looking almost unbeatable now. Doubtful Ferrer can do any damage. Maybe he gets a set.

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