• Nadal battles Berdych for spot in Rome final

    5/17/13 8:13 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal battles Berdych for spot in Rome final Tomas Berdych derailed a potential Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal semifinal showdown in Rome. Berdych upset the world No. 1 in the quarters and will look to keep his run going against Nadal on semifinal Saturday.

    Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych will be doing battle for the 17th time in their careers and for the second time this season when they clash in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Saturday.

    Nadal is dominating the head-to-head series 13-3, including 4-0 on clay. The Spaniard lost three of his first four meetings with Berdych, but he has since won 12 in a row--including two months ago via a 6-4, 7-5 decision in the Indian Wells semifinals. Berdych, who has not beaten Nadal since 2006, has lost nine consecutive sets to his nemesis on the slow stuff since winning their first such set in the 2005 Bastad final.

    In that sense, Nadal appears to be a dominant force--however, he has been anything but that this week in Rome. The defending champion needed two hours and 37 minutes to overcome Ernests Gulbis 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday before holding off David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 after two hours and 46 minutes in the quarterfinals. Nadal, who opened his title defense with a blowout of Fabio Fognini, is now 34-2 for the season and 39-2 lifetime at this tournament.

    Berdych cannot be too excited about facing this particular opponent, but he did not exactly have a favorable history against Novak Djokovic heading into Friday's quarters, either. The sixth-ranked Czech seemed to be well on his way to a 14th loss in 15 tries against the Serb when he trailed 6-2, 5-2, but the underdog stormed back for an improbable 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 triumph. Berdych, who preceded that big win with straight-set scalps of Denis Istomin and Kevin Anderson, owns a 29-9 record for his 2013 campaign.

    Interestingly, Berdych actually has the exact kind of game that should trouble Nadal--a huge serve, flat and powerful groundstrokes that can bulldoze their way through any court, and a two-handed backhand that can comfortably handle high balls. The No. 6 seed's movement, however, can be and always has been exposed by Nadal--especially on clay.

    Berdych is playing well enough right now to win this, but it's hard to imagine him having that necessary belief based on his recent struggles against Nadal. As such, Nadal in straight sets is the pick.

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#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 5/17/13 9:19 PM

well, if Berdy can come back from a set down and 5-2 in the 2nd against Novak, I think he could muster the necessary belief against Nadal.
Nadal has not been very impressive so far, this will be a tough fight. If Rafa plays his service games as he did today against Ferrer he's toast for sure.

Vamos Rafa! 2013's Nr. 1

Shireling , 5/17/13 9:28 PM

Rafa is Rafa and Novak is Novak.....................and this is clay!!!

Though Rafa seems a bit spent, but I give him the nod on this one!!! VAMOS!!!!

Monalysa , 5/17/13 10:51 PM

Shirling: 'Nadal has not been very impressive so far'.

If you're measuring his recent performances against his very best then I believe most people recognise he is not there yet. But if you take into account he is still working his way back to his former level and yet is finding a way to beat tough opponents - even if it is by the skin of his lovely white teeth - then it's not just impressive, it's a bloody miracle.

It will take nothing short of a miracle if, at this stage in his comeback, he is able to win an 8th RG crown given the physical - not to mention emotionally draining - demands of a Slam. Apart from the obvious contenders who'll be busting their guts to beat him there will also be a clutch of lower ranked players who will play with nothing to lose believing this could be their chance to score a win over Rafa at RG.

For the time being I will continue to believe miracles can happen. If he can win against the best at Indian Wells why not at his beloved Roland Garros.

ed251137 , 5/17/13 10:54 PM

Lucky Nadal as always.

rogervic , 5/18/13 1:35 AM

Rafa is Rafa and Novak is Novak.....................and this is clay!!!
Monalysa, 5/17/13 10:51 PM

I'm clapping!


nadline , 5/18/13 9:41 AM

I am just going to talk baout Rome, not Madrid, not Barcelona, not Monte Carlo.

People are not giving Gulbis and Ferru the credit they deserve in judging Rafa's game. Consider this: Rafa has steamrolled over these players in the past because their game was sub-par. They have raised their game and this is why it appears as if Rafa has dropped his. Of course we know that Rafa is not yet at 100% but I think there should be no shame in admitting that some players have raised their game. In fact, I think it is a good thing because this will force Rafa to raise his further. We saw this yesterday in the 3rd set against Ferru. Ferru played good game but Rafa was forced to raise his in the 3rd because Ferru was on fire.

There is no question Berdych has improved mentally. I expect him to hang better than he has done in the past against Rafa, but Rafa will step up a notch in response.

Rafa will be in the Rome final................

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 10:27 AM

I dont care if Rafa wins Rome or not,RG n Wimby is the key

I am apprehensive , I sumhow have a feeling hell win 7 titles till Wimby, he has 5 till now, which re the 2 out of Rome, RG, Wimby :-)

My prediction is just that, a nothing serious or based on any concrete stuff

sanju , 5/18/13 11:28 AM

Am I missing something? Isn't this article written by Ricky on Nadal and Berdych? That said, what has it got to do with violating young people's lives?

scoretracker , 5/18/13 11:45 AM

scoretracker -- I wrote a blog yesterday about Bill Tilden...chlorostoma meant to post a reply on that article, not this one. I deleted it so as to avoid future confusion. :)

cherylmurray , 5/18/13 1:40 PM

Thanks Cheryl. I now understand the mix-up.,

scoretracker , 5/18/13 2:55 PM

This will affect playing conditions for Rafa/Berdy match:

RT @SI_BTBaseline: "Players back on court. Court remained uncovered through the rain. #wta"

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 3:10 PM

Into another thriller! lets go rafa lets go :D

rafaelo , 5/18/13 3:55 PM

so, what is it, rain delay or what?

Shireling , 5/18/13 4:43 PM

Rafa and Tomas on court...........

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 4:45 PM

first game, first break for Rafa, vamos!!

Shireling , 5/18/13 4:49 PM

2-0 Rafa, impressive so far!

Shireling , 5/18/13 4:52 PM

great hold from the Byrd - 2-1

Shireling , 5/18/13 4:57 PM

3-1 - Rafa is playing like a beast today!

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:01 PM

Rafa, The Artist on clay..............

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 5:05 PM



natashao , 5/18/13 5:05 PM

Bery is getting 1st serves and he still manages to come up with the goods, counter-dropshots, amazing passing shots.. and that last one was incredible!

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:06 PM

Rafa is playing sublime, but I hope he knows that Berdych was in the same position against Nole yesterday and he came from behind and won! So Rafa better not lower his intensity and play like a man possessed till the final ball! I dont trust the Bird!!!

Monalysa , 5/18/13 5:07 PM

amazing stuff 5-1... yes Monalysa.. Berdi's yesterday's come-back in the back of our minds

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:11 PM

Is Rafa's backhand coming back????

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 5:11 PM

his bh is awesome today, yes
5-2.. is Berdi coming back???

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:13 PM

Why is Rafa removing his ankle tape, is that safe to play without?

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 5:14 PM

1st set Rafa 62, 31 minutes

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 5:18 PM

maybe Novak's magical taping doesn't work on him...
6-2 Rafa , first set in the bag.. let's pray the 2nd goes just as well...

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:18 PM

this the best I have seen Rafa play in the last two years! Clay genius at work!

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 5/18/13 5:19 PM

@ nastashao, i was just saying the same thing!!! This is the first time in a long time that I feel so comfortable about Rafa's game that I am not glued to the tv screen....hehehe!!! Hope he does not have one of his lapses!!!

Monalysa , 5/18/13 5:23 PM

best game of the match for the bird to go 1-0 in the 2nd set, he's not given up

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:23 PM

spot lapse ahead...

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:26 PM

ufff.. deuce

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:27 PM

firs break-point saved by Rafa - important hold

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:28 PM

Berdy has found his serve, Rafa needs to be careful on his because it will be difficult to break Berdy if he is pouring aces....

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 5:31 PM

Rafa playing well today.

cherylmurray , 5/18/13 5:49 PM

shit, got to go now and pick up the kid... hope Rafa gets the 2nd set too.. so long people, vamos!!

Shireling , 5/18/13 5:49 PM

triple break point

cherylmurray , 5/18/13 5:57 PM

Now serve it out Rafa, with colm and intensity..........

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 5:59 PM

Vamossssss Rafa

gr8nadal , 5/18/13 5:59 PM

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 5/18/13 6:04 PM

That was a good match all the around for Nadal.

cherylmurray , 5/18/13 6:04 PM



Conspirator , 5/18/13 6:05 PM

Beautiful! Master piece!

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 5/18/13 6:07 PM

8 consecutive finals!!! awesome. congrats

rafaelo , 5/18/13 6:07 PM

This is the best clay peroformance I have seen from Rafa in a long time. Absolute brilliance. Backhand is coming back, 100% 2nd serve points won, 20/11 W/UEs ratio, he was moving like old, kept his concentration all through, absolutely strangled Berdych...


rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 6:07 PM

I stayed off TT because I really don't need wilmw when Rafa is playing. It appears he did need to turn up today to enjoy putting Rafa down.

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 5/18/13 6:10 PM

Vamos Rafa....

On to the finals.


Raindrops , 5/18/13 6:12 PM

Brilliant relentless tennis from Rafa in the first set and an amazing 9th game in the second. Against Berdych too, how very, very satisfying.

deuce , 5/18/13 6:17 PM

Vamos Rafa, my king!!!!

Great performance, cant ask for more. I have never seen anyone win 100% of their second!!!!

Upwards and onwards, Rafa! One match at a time!!!

Good luck tomorrow in the finals!!!

Monalysa , 5/18/13 6:25 PM

chr18 must have leeeeerved this match and Rafa, Rafa had more winners than Berdy and less UEs , hehehehe!

Berdych: W/UEs 12/15
Rafa: W/UEs 20/11

Rafa meets chr18's requirement for an exciting tennis player!

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 6:36 PM

Rafa in the Spanish TV: He's said that he's started the match really strong, w/a lot of energy. He thinks that 1st set has been 1 of best... sets he's played this year. In the 2nd set he's started to feel a bit tired (overloaded quadriceps) & found catch up with the high level of the 1st set. Hopefully he's managed to win in straights.

The tired word is not good to hear. Tired so fast? Played too much?

sanju , 5/18/13 7:00 PM

BTW I saw he calling to Maymo for something at 4-4 all, what was it about? Maymo was on the move

sanju , 5/18/13 7:02 PM

^^^ It's not good! especially ahead of RG and best of five matches!

rafaelo , 5/18/13 7:06 PM

Six-two, six-four is a convincing victory and no doubt that he takes Rome and moves on to Paris for history. BP must not spoil what all Rafans and Feddies are looking forward to. Wouid be a very good match if both sustains the surge. Waiting for a great Sunday.

newfangkc , 5/18/13 7:14 PM

BP has any chance (even outside) to derail Roger? Its wishful thinking

It will be Fedal again in final

sanju , 5/18/13 7:20 PM

sanju, he called Maymo for a racket re-string. Rafa is fine, it is okay to feel tired, Masters 1000 are demanding, there is no day's rest like in Slams. Berdy found his serve in the 2nd set but Rafa kept the pressure on and capitalised to break.

Remember Rafa has reduced his practice time so the matches make up for that.

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 7:20 PM

That was incredible tennis from rafa. That first set was the best clay court tennis I've seen since 2010.

willmw101 , 5/18/13 7:27 PM

I just got on here to see the score! Wow! It appears that Rafa played his best match yet. I can't wait to watch my recording. Another final!

I also wanted to say that we should enjoy this and not look for things to worry about. As ritb said, there's nothing wrong with being tired especially given how little Rafa has played this year. I think these three set matches will help him get match tough and fitter.

This match shows us that when Rafa is challenged it only brings out his best. Those two matches were good preparation for the final. This will also help Rafa be match fit and ready for RG. He still has a week off before it begins.

We should be celebrating because what Rafa is doing now is nothing short of amazing.

Nativenewyorker , 5/18/13 7:30 PM

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 7:31 PM

I was rooting for Rog yesterday against Jano, my husband thought something was wron with me but I really, really want a Fedal final.

nadline , 5/18/13 7:34 PM

Nadline, ure just yearning for that mile high #20 club, uh, uh?!!!!!

Monalysa , 5/18/13 7:43 PM

RT @AndrewCastle63: "#Rafa Nadal into his 8th final in a row since comeback in Feb. It's unreal. "

Any day now Rafa's comeback will be included in Business School case studies............

rafaisthebest , 5/18/13 8:06 PM

Has 8 finals in a row ever been made till date in OPen era?Or is it 1st time?

Djoko was 7 in 2011

Not sure of Feds 2005-2006 if he did it

sanju , 5/18/13 8:13 PM

Paul Anacone looks like he's in tears.

nadline , 5/18/13 8:55 PM

^^^Sorry, wrong thread.

nadline , 5/18/13 8:59 PM

so glad our boy is in another final ::)
Vamos Rafa, tu puedes!!!

Shireling , 5/18/13 9:42 PM

OMG!!! Rafa!!! As RITB pointed out a few days ago, Rafa is an alien indeed!!! 8 finals after coming from a 7 month lay off into competition at the highest level. What a fellow!! Vamoss!!
Hope Roger does not pull a Zeballos out of the hat tomorrow!!
Vamos Rafa!! Get the 24th masters!!!! after playing 3 top 10 players one after the other not to mention the on-fire Gulbis!!!

vmk1 , 5/18/13 10:18 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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