In 2014, the crowd at Caja Magica could not watch former champions Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, leaving the home favorite Rafael Nadal standing as the player to beat. After the quarter-final losses in Monte Carlo and Rome (Rafa failed to win a title at one of these tournaments for the first time since 2004), the defending Madrid Open champion was ready to bounce back.
Rafa lost only six games in the opening two matches against Juan Monaco and Jarkko Nieminen to gather momentum and set the quarter-final clash against Tomas Berdych. The defending champion toppled the 2012 finalist 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 28 minutes for his fifth Caja Magica semi-final from six editions.
It was Rafa's 18th victory over Tomas in 21 encounters and the 17th in a row. He dominated on serve and did more than enough on the return to seal the deal in straight sets and remain on the title course.
Rafael Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych in the 2014 Madrid Open quarter-final.
Nadal had 24 winners and 14 unforced errors and built the advantage in the shortest and more extended rallies to control the pace.
The Spaniard fended off the only break chance he faced, and the Czech could not follow that pace. He experienced three breaks that propelled Nadal into the last four. Rafa repelled a break chance in the encounter's second game and overcame deuce at 2-3 to stay on the positive side.
Berdych served well so far, but that all changed in the seventh game when Rafa landed a return winner to grab a break and move 4-3 in front. The defending champion cemented the lead with four winners in the next one and closed 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 second set's third game to move in front and held at 15 in the next one. Nadal wasted more chances on the return in game five that could have pushed him 4-1 up.
Still going strong, Rafa closed the sixth game with a service winner and fired another from his backhand to grab a break a few minutes later. Serving for the victory at 5-2, Rafa blasted four winners to wrap up an impressive performance and march into the semis.