ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal downs Tomas Berdych to reach semis

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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal downs Tomas Berdych to reach semis

In 2014, the best players in the world gathered in Madrid's Caja Magica at the second Masters 1000 event on the clay of the season, with the defending champion Rafael Nadal standing as the player to beat. The Spaniard lost in the quarter-final in Monte Carlo and Rome, failing to win at least one title at those two events for the first time in ten years and hoping to bounce back in front of the home crowd in Madrid.

Rafa lost only six games in the opening two matches against Juan Monaco and Jarkko Nieminen, setting the quarter-final clash against Tomas Berdych and beating the Czech 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 28 minutes to advance into the fifth semi-final in six editions in Caja Magica.

It was the 18th victory for Rafa over Tomas in 21 encounters and the 17th in a row, dominating on serve and doing more than enough on the return to seal the deal in straight sets and remain on the title course. Nadal had 24 winners and 14 unforced errors, having the advantage in both the shortest and more extended rallies to control the pace all the time, fending off the only break chance he faced and securing three breaks to find himself in the last four.

Rafa repelled a break point in the second game, overcoming deuce in the sixth game to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. Berdych served well so far and that all changed in the seventh game when Rafa landed a return winner to grab a break and move 4-3 in front, cementing the break with four winners on his serve and closing the opener with a perfect forehand crosscourt winner at 5-4 after 45 minutes.

The Spaniard landed an incredible forehand down the line winner in the third game of the second set to move in front, holding at 15 in the next game and wasting more chances on the return that could have pushed him 4-1 up.

Rafa closed the sixth game with a service winner, firing another one from his backhand to grab a break a few minutes later and moving over the top with four winners at 5-2 to wrap up an impressive performance and march into the semis.