Tomas Berdych was one of the most consistent players at the Masters 1000 level, alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The Czech reached many quarter-finals and semi-finals but usually failed to make a decisive step and fight for the title.
One of those rare chances came on blue clay in Madrid 2012 after defeating Juan Martin del Potro 7-6, 7-6, entering the final and arranging the clash against Roger Federer. It was an incredible battle between two hard-hitting, aggressive players, with two breaks on each side and 79 points for each.
Berdych had more winners and unforced errors, rushing to the net and trying to keep the rallies on his racquet. Del Potro had his roles and earned five break chances. He converted only two and lost ground in the closing stages of both tie breaks to finish his journey in the semi-final.
Two of those break chances came in the very first game of the match, with Berdych staying calm to erase them and avoid an early setback. What he failed to achieve in that one, del Potro fixed two games later after landing a perfect backhand crosscourt winner to open a 2-1 gap.
The Argentine held with a service winner in the next one to cement the advantage and settle into a nice rhythm.
Tomas Berdych prevailed over Juan Martin del Potro in the 2012 Madrid semi-final.
Both players served well until the tenth game, when the Argentine could have closed the opener.
However, he suffered a break at love that kept Tomas in contention and prolonged the set. Del Potro trailed 5-1 in the tie break before climbing back to 5-5. Juan Martin netted a backhand in the 11th point and offered Tomas a set point.
The Czech wrapped up a grueling opener with a forehand crosscourt winner for 7-5 in the tie break after 68 minutes. Tomas grabbed a break at the start of the second set and stayed ahead until the sixth game. Juan Martin stepped in on the return at 2-3 and pulled the break back after forcing the opponent's error to level the score and produce more drama and excitement.
Both players served well in the remaining games to set a tie break, a must-win one for Juan Martin. Berdych gained a 6-5 lead with two service winners, and del Potro denied a match point with an ace, doing his best to survive.
Still, he sprayed a backhand error in the next point, and Tomas sealed the deal with a smash winner at 7-6 to advance into his third Masters 1000 final and the first since Miami 2010.
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