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. Berdych prevailed over del Potro to set the final clash against Roger Federer. It was an incredible battle between two hard-hitting and aggressive players, with two breaks 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 as well and earned five break chances, converting only two and losing ground in the closing stages of both tie breaks to finish his journey in the semis.
Two of those break chances came in the encounter's first game. Tomas stayed calm to defend 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.
He 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 2012 Madrid semi-final.
Both players served well until the tenth game when the Argentine could have closed the opener.
Instead, he suffered a break at love to keep Tomas in contention and squander his chance. From 5-1 down in the tie break, del Potro climbed back to 5-5 before netting a backhand in the next point. Berdych wrapped up a grueling opening set with a forehand crosscourt winner for 7-5 after 68 minutes.
With momentum on his side, the Czech grabbed an early break at the beginning of the second set to move closer to the finish line. He stayed ahead until game six, when Juan Martin pulled it back after forcing the opponent's error to level the score at 3-3 and produce more drama.
Both players served well in the remaining games to set a tie break. Berdych gained a 6-5 lead with two service winners, denied on the match point by an ace from the Argentine, who gave his best to remain in touch. Still, del Potro sprayed a backhand error in the next point, and Berdych sealed the deal with a smash winner a few moments later to advance into his third Masters 1000 final and the first since Miami 2010.