In 2014, the crowd at Caja Magica couldn't watch former champions Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, with 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 any of these tournaments for the first time since 2004), the defending Madrid Open champion was ready to bounce back at the home Masters 1000 event.
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, dominating on serve and doing 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, having the advantage in both the shortest and more extended rallies to control the pace.
The Spaniard fended off the only break chance he faced, and the Czech couldn't follow that pace, suffering three breaks that propelled Nadal into the last four. Rafa repelled a break point in the second game and overcame deuce at 2-3 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. The defending champion cemented the break with four winners on his serve 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 before holding at 15 in the next game and wasting more chances on the return that could have pushed him 4-1 up.
Still going strong, Nadal 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, Rafa blasted four winners in game eight to wrap up an impressive performance and march into the semis.