Nadal Outlasts Berdych Setting Up Semifinal Showdown With Federer Thursday Night At Australian Open
by Staff | January 24th, 2012, 9:36 am

It took 4-hours, 13-minutes but Rafael Nadal finally beat Tomas Berdych to set up a mouthwatering Thursday night blockbuster with Roger Federer in the Australian Open semifinals.

But it nearly wasn’t meant to be. After Federer smoked Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in an earlier quarterfinal, Nadal, who had dominated Tomas Berdych winning their last nine meetings, was in trouble early on.

In a topsy-turvy 75-minute first set, Berdych came out ahead in a tiebreaker. Nadal then jumped a break ahead in the second, but Berdych came back, forced another breaker holding a crucial set point at 6-5.

Nadal refocused winning the last three points to level at one set apiece.

Just when it looked like Nadal had seized the match, Berdych scored the early break in the third to lead 2-0. Nadal again came back winning the set and then hung on for the fourth to win 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-3.

“Very happy with anything,” Nadal said. “Semifinals is fantastic result for me. Start the season with semifinals in the first big tournament of the season is very good news. The level is very positive, much, much better than the end of the season. The character on court, the way to win the points, everything was much more positive, so I’m very happy.”

Berdych had drawn the ire of many fans after not shaking hand in the prior round with Nadal’s countryman Nicolas Almagro. But the incident never was a factor.

“It was really good match,” Berdych said. “But actually it was only good, which means that is not enough with Rafa.

“I think the only difference today why I like didn’t end out the second set and probably all night was that if I would be playing better on the night, then I think I could make it today, and I was really close,” he added. .

Federer and Nadal will meet for a 27th time, first in a semifinal since the 2005 French Open won by Nadal on his 19th birthday.

“We have been, you know, on opposite sides of the draw many times,” Federer said. “I didn’t even play Murray last year, you know, because we were ranked I guess 3 and 4, so we always ran into Novak or ‑‑ I basically always ran into Novak. I guess it’s a nice changeup. Okay, it doesn’t allow a rematch for the Australian Open final here, you know, if Murray were to play Novak. But I think it’s good for tennis that it changes up a bit. Like I said, I’d love to play Rafa in the semis if it happens.”

Nadal also leads Federer 7-2 in Grand Slam play including a devastating win over the Swiss in the 2009 Australian Open final. On hardcourt the scales tip to Federer 5-4.

“Always playing in these kind of surfaces he’s the favorite,” Nadal said. “His level is fantastic, and he won today a fantastic match against one of the best players of the world, Del Potro. So he’s doing very, very well.

“So he’s coming with confidence. It will be a very, very difficult match for me, and I will try. But for me, the most important thing I had the calm. The feeling of the level of my game during all the tournament was really satisfying. Even if I lose, I come back home with very positive feeling about how I played, and for sure the result is good. For me, semifinals after two years with troubles, injuries, is, you know, I must be happy for that.”

On Wednesday, Andy Murray faces Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic tests David Ferrer.

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36 Comments for Nadal Outlasts Berdych Setting Up Semifinal Showdown With Federer Thursday Night At Australian Open

t-fedex Says:

My federer playing awesome+Nadal playing great…its gonna be some mouth-watering thunderstorm in d semifinals..what a time to be a tennis fan!!!let’s savour this moments guys..Go roger!!!!!!

malher Says:

Lets go Roger!!! LETS GO!!!

mat4 Says:


Here is a link to the Djokovic-Hewitt match. You will be able to judge his serve by yourself.

jane Says:

mat4 is it the entire match? Thanks! Will try to watch later. Busy day though.

mat4 Says:

Yes it is.

Gordo Says:

So, point wise, here is what is at stake as far as Rafa and Roger are concerned –

Subtracting points off of last year’s AO results, where Roger reached the semis and Rafa reached the quarters, and figuring out what could happen, here is how the two guys will be sitting Monday morning –

Rafa currently has 9595 less 360

If he wins the title he will have 11,235 points
If he loses in the final – 10,435
If he loses to Roger – 9,955

Fed currently has 8,010 less 720

If he wins the title he will have 9,290 points
If he loses in the final – 8,490
If he loses to Rafa – 8,010

So should either of them win this tournement the points difference between them will be –

Rafa wins – he is 3,225 points ahead of Roger
Roger wins – he is 665 points behind Nadal.

WTF Says:

I really don’t think Nadal will beat Fed. Fed won the last match they played rather convincingly, but this Nadal has some niggles plus he changed his racket to something he’s not used to and hadn’t practiced enough with. He was meant to hit with it for 3 weeks at the start of the season but only managed one week.

Changing racket is a big risk and requires an adjustment period that will take time. So big a risk that Sampras never tried it even though he should have. The payoff is long term.

Federer has also not been tested. Even given a walkover, which seems to happen quite a bit for him in majors.

Federer in 4 sets.

pro rafa Says:

@WTF….just my opinion and nothing else…Every fedal match is different…. But with the current court playing as slow as clay, the surface is less demanding on rafa than it used to be in the past and also, rafa aint going for a brand new racquet but a heavier one which will give him more topspin to work points with…. If past is anything to go by, especially in slams, roger came red hot at the french having beaten novak djokovic in the semis while rafa arrived with less than 100% confidence or belief and yet it was rafa who prevailed…. enjoy tennis…. no one has won till the last point is won… the better player always wins even if the way he plays is not good to watch

Ajet Says:

I would like to congratulate rafa for his fighting victory against the dangerous berdych! All those thinking fed would roll for rafa, well, you may be right. but, never underestimate federer, is all I can say!
Nobody really knows wh’ll win. So rather wait and watch!

My personal take looking at things(past, present and all that), rafa may beat fed in 3/4/5 sets, but fed may win in only 4/5 sets, fed can’t straight set rafa. the rafa-fed semi can end up in many way, possibilities ranging from a rout of fed to a 4 or s set victory for fed! it’s unpredictable for me, mucho unsure!

marrisv Says:

What an awesome effort by Rafa!!! Can’t wait for the semis.

gonzalowski Says:

Hello to everyone, long time passed

A question, 2 weeks ago Rafa complained about Fed not saying anything about players’ injuries because of the massive calendar of playing along the year.
He said something like “it’s easy to appear like a gentleman not entering in the discussions”.

Will the Fed be ansious to give a little ‘tok’ to his buddy?

Fot Says:

I hope Roger can win. I don’t like it when Roger and Nadal plays (based on the H2H), but I’m always glad when they meet each other on anything OTHER THAN CLAY. I believe Roger has a better shot if they don’t play on clay. So – Go Roger!!!!

racquet Says:

Interesting statistic I read today: Federer hasn’t beaten Rafa at a slam since 2007. That will either give him extra incentive or mess with his mind.

I know Fed handed Rafa a beatdown at the WTF but best of five is another matter entirely. In any case, it’s a dream SF – for both organisers and fans. I hope the other dream SF pans out too.

Daniel Says:

How is Fed match winning streak right now, this is going totally under the radar?

I know he won 7 matches this year (3 in Doha and 4 this AO) + 5 at last year YEC + 5 at Paris + 5 at Basel and 2 Davis Cup = 24 straight matches. Is that right or he had any other walkover in Basel or Paris?

S Green Says:

Brando from the other thread: “from midway set 3 and set 4 especially, rafa played much closer to the baseline, his returns were aggressive, strong serve and generally just played much better.
All in all, rafa got better as the match wore on.”

What Brandon says is near unanimous (99.9%) conclusion that most tennis fans draw: Rafa gets incrementally better as the match goes on. However, this super majority position may or may not be wholly true ALL THE TIME.

One minority or rather exceptional observation comes from steve-o: “Of course it got easier for Nadal to be more aggressive and take more chances as Berdych wore down physically, made more mistakes, and started being a little slower to get to the ball. But before that he was constantly on D to stay alive.”

Even if you cannot generalize an exceptional view by rule, I find it adventurous to do so in the assumption that there are others who subscribe to steve-o’s observation in silence (may do so in the future). I happen to think steve-o has as much merit as the unanimous observation, and those two positions may not actually be incompatible: As the match goes on, Rafa APPEARS better as he is able to hit more winners because the opponent’s level drops and enlarges his side of the court.

Based on this, the question for me is: How does it apply to Federer, who cannot be worn out physically?

Another closely related question: Could Fed’s losses to Nadal be attributed to the majority view that Nadal gets better and better or to this other view that he wears his opponents down and maintains his relative strength throughout?

If Rafa were to get better invariably on all occasions, why didn’t that happen in his last 6 matches against Djokovic? (a rhetorical question). Djokovic has already debunked the so-called unanimous view or at least exposed the limit of brute force/ the relative untiring strength, has he not?

Brando Says:

@ s green: nice post. I think mats wilander said it correctly: rafa is a guy who needs a game plan that he believes in and then he goes out and beats the opponent. Against nole, IMO, after Miami he just felt he does not have the game to beat nole, hence competed without any real conviction. Against federer, he has a game plan that he believes in, works- therefore he usually holds his nerve when things get tight.

Lou Says:

It will be interesting to see how Djokovic performs today as he will be facing a tough opponent in Ferrer. But considering how he has been playing and his stats are a lot better than Ferrer, he should be able to pull through easily: Djokovic/ Ferrer: What does statsmeter indicate?

Shorthand Says:

@pro_rafa… You said “the better player always wins even if the way he plays is not good to watch”.

But did you see the Nalbandian/Isner match? I thought Nalbandian was the much better player the whole time, just got a horrible call and couldn’t recover.

Thangs Says:

Seems many couldn’t digest that Nadal pulled out to victory yesterday. His games are not played on paper.

Epsilon Says:

Recommended post. Sums it up nicely and doesn’t appear to be much away from the truth, although you can’t totally encircle it.

Post 174 by masterclass:

grendel Says:

S Green

It certainly makes logical sense that it is Nadal’s relative strength which is maintained, even though in absolute terms his tennis goes down a notch or two. Intriguing point, and I’ll have to pay more attention and see if I can have an opinion. One point: Nadal (in many of the matches I have seen him in at any rate)tends to start slowly. So,combining this with your idea, his level of play (in absolute terms) might be said to resemble a curve which gradually climbs to a maximum (say by the end of the second set) before it starts to decline.

w.r.t. Federer, it may be difficult to wear him down physically, but what about mentally? And there is also the related question of baggage. As he starts to miss those break points, and gets drawn into the attrition steve-o alludes to, he surely must start to get that sinking feeling – here we go again – which can only be very debilitating. We saw today Federer struggle to close out the 2nd set against del Potro – hard to believe that memories of New York 09 were not affecting him. He certainly tightened, and I believe it took some courage for him to pull out that game. (by the way, it looks like your man delPo is well on the way back, and will be a huge force for the rest of the year).

w.r.t.Djokovic, there is the Brando/Wilander point, but also, perhaps he is the exception which proves the rule? Djokovic is, after all, in some ways similar to Nadal.

S Green Says:

In my last post, I was merely trying to question my own conflicting thoughts (by engaging others’ views in disguise), so when we complicate a discourse, a more robust thinking begins.

Grendel, I could not help noticing the math side of your personality, which you often seem to suppress or disregard: “curve which gradually climbs to a maximum.” I am a literature professional who loves numbers, and you are a math teacher who enjoys lit: we like the other side. The rare protuberance of your math side, particularly the relative (practical) vs. absolute (ideal), was classic.

As for “what about mentally?” I knew somebody would bring this up. Thanks you did.
As I may not be able to shed light on how the physiological side of mental system works, but we can observe the social side of mind (the external symptoms) and it does show that Federer’s mental composure is affected by the figure of Nadal (his style, surface, history, etc), and the effects are generally more often negative than positive, but I am not qualified to quantify it.

We need more discussion to address this question: How does the length of a Federer-Nadal match equate in Federer’s mental calculus?

skeezerweezer Says:


He hasn’t lost since USO losing to Djoker, with match points on his racket (ugh)

Tennislover Says:

S Green – I have always believed that a good part of Nadal’s mental toughness is due to his physical toughness. This gives him a huge advantage especially in a best-of-five format. He can afford to play his game and eventually wear down his opponents physically and, therefore, mentally as well. However, he must be in peak physical condition to sustain such a strategy for a long period of time. He has had his issues but he has been generally in very good shape during his prime. This obviously can not continue forever though. I suspect his physical prime is coming to an end unless modern sports medicine can come out with some more miracles. He turned pro very early and his extremely physical game must have taken a toll on his body. He looked vulnerable physically as well as game-wise last year. His monster off-fh went missing in action. I felt it in 2011 as early as Madrid. Huge credit to Djoker for being the only player to take advantage of it even though Nadal struggled against many others. He got his tactics right and executed well but there were many occasions where he basically out-Nadalled Nadal. Miami and USO were prime examples of that. This came as a shock to most watchers including me. So much so that there were all kinds of insinuations about Djoker which earlier used to be about Nadal. I remember calling his dramatic improvement in endurance and stamina miraculous more than once last year. Mat4 suggested the other day that it was always there but Djoker just didn’t have the heart to fight before. I don’t find that idea entirely convincing though. His fitness issues were exaggerated but he definitely wasn’t the kind of guy who you’d expect to grind out matches against the ultimate beast.

Of course, Djoker always had the game to trouble him on any surface and had thrashed Nadal on hard courts before. Only the Rome result was slightly surprising but there were reports of him being not that well then. Nadal also had a grueling early 2011 season. It all added up in all probability. He is young in age but he has a lot of tough matches in his body. I can not see his situation improving especially if he plays some marathons with the likes of Murray or Djoker early in the season. If he keeps up the intensity in the early part of the season, he risks jeopardizing his FO to USO campaign.

I, therefore, generally agree with steve-o’s observation. Nadal has done that far too frequently in the past for me to miss it. I think he can do it against Djoker too in the very likely scenario of their meeting in the final. I say this because Nadal presumably is fresh at the moment. However, I am not sure he can do that against Djoker at the USO for instance. I say this assuming Djoker himself will be in good condition then.

“How does it apply to Federer, who cannot be worn out physically?”

I am afraid this question is a bit of a non-stater imho because that is a bit of a myth. Fed has himself admitted to it many times especially in the context of his losses to Nadal on clay. I think many of his famous losses even against other opponents were due at least partly to him being worn out, as you’d expect, due to the length of the match.

As to the “closely related question”, I don’t think it is quite as simple as that. However, if you were to insist, one could say that in almost all the RG losses except the 2008 one, Nadal wore him down and Fed has talked about it openly.

About the match itself, I had the sneaking suspicion that Berd’s fitness could become a bit of an issue after Nico had kept him on court for four hours in intense heat. Still Berd made a valiant effort especially in the first two sets, Those who say that Nadal played bad are doing injustice to both players. Nadal played as well as he was allowed to play by Berd. It was almost a tour de force from Berd in the first two sets. As Nadal said about his court-positioning in the on-court interview, he was just trying to find solutions. Berd was that good at the time. It took an exceptional effort from Nadal to just hang in there and find the slightest of openings to deny Berd a two-set lead. The moment Berd hit that volley wide, one just couldn’t help getting the feeling that it was all over for him because I really thought he had to do it in straight sets. Although Berd wasn’t at his absolute best – he very rarely is- I liked his effort despite his errors and tactical mistakes at some crucial moments.

I also couldn’t agree more with steve-o’s point about the set points Berd had on the Nadal serve at 6-5 in the first set especially the one which Berd should really have won after being in control. It would have also allowed Berd to start serving first in the second set. Kudos to Nadal for absorbing that barrage from Berd.

Ike Says:

Rafa wins in maybe four / most likely in five sets.

Wade Says:

Come on Djokovic and Murray! I’ve got live tickets to both semi’s and final at Aus Open and would be my dream come true seeing the top 4 players doing battle in the best of a 5 set tournament!

Contemperory Says:

Can someone answer this question? How do we compare Federer’s and Nadal’s form coming into Aus open 2009 F, and their form today? Are we in for a 2009 repeat? Even in 2009, Fed steamrolled Delpo in the QF and won easily against Roddick in the SF. Aren’t we seeing the same situation here?

Michael Says:

If the first serves of Federer clicks, he is going to win against Nadal. Take that from me. His first serve percentage should be around 70% and Nadal is done. More often than not, against Nadal particular, Roger’s first serve percentage is awful to say the least.

Michael Says:


Every match is different. What happened in 2009, need not repeat in 2012 ? Moreover even in 2009, Federer was clearly the better player despite losing the match. He had so many break points on Nadal’s serve which went begging. Moreover, his first serve percentage was pathetic. Still the match went to five sets and in the fifth, Federer collapsed for sure. But this time, I am sure we are going to see a different Federer going into the match. He is full of confidence and he is yet to lose a set in this tournament despite having the most brutal draw that you can imagine. Therefore, my prediction is that Federer should win in four sets, If it goes the distance, then Nadal will have the edge for sure.

Michael Says:


Remember you are accusing a player who has won 16 majors and with 23 consecutive semi-final streak as a mental freak ????

malher Says:

@micheal – totally agree – in the 2009 final Fed had more points won in total – show you that he were actually the better player – he wont make the same mistakes again – or rather – I hope not – still have sleepless nights about the US open semis in which he got match points – LETS GO ROGER!! LETS GO!!

Michael Says:

Malher, Let us hope the best for our man. It is really nervous more for us (fans) than Roger. Hope, he doesn’t disappoint us. I will never be disappointed if Roger gives his best and still goes on to lose because I know that if he does his best then no other player can win on that day. I only hope he improves his first serve percentage drastically. To win over Rafa, he should have first serve percentage anywhere between 70-75%. Anything less than that then Rafa will find the going easy.

Michael Says:

Tennislover, I do not buy that physical toughness part of Rafa as now-a-days he gets tired even in three setters.

grendel Says:

Michael says:”Grendel,

Remember you are accusing a player who has won 16 majors and with 23 consecutive semi-final streak as a mental freak ????”

I’m going to have to direct the question marks back at you, because I haven’t the least idea what you mean. Nowhere have I made the tiniest hint of an accusation along the lines you suggest. Shakes head in bafflement….

Michael Says:


From what I infer from one of your earlier posting was that you accused Federer lacking the mental edge when playing against Nadal and I responded to it. You have been repeating that accusation over time. My point is match-ups and mental edge are completely different issues. To give you just one example, Ferrer is 5-6 against Novak Djokovic, but against Roger he is what 13-0. Federer has beaten him on all courts even on Ferrer’s favourite surface ie. Clay about four times. Whereas Novak is 5-6 against Ferrer and he struggles against him in every tournament and even against Tsonga whereas he is able to beat Nadal with ease. Soderling finds the going tough against Roger, Rafa and even Novak but against Murray he holds ground quite often. How do you explain this phenomenon ????

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