Berdych upsets Nadal, Federer in semis

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Thomas Berdych upset defending champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals at the Madrid Masters on Friday 6-3, 7-6 (6).

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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Thomas Berdych overcame a partisan crowd and defending champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals at the Madrid Masters on Friday, beating the second-ranked Spaniard 6-3, 7-6 (6). Berdych evened the tiebreaker at 6-6 on Nadal's serve, silencing the audience with a passing shot. He clinched his third straight win over the French Open champ when Nadal hit a forehand long. Berdych left the court to jeers after putting his finger to his lips in a silencing motion. "I can understand they want him to win the match and the tournament, but this is not a Davis Cup where you can expect this - not in this tournament," Berdych said, adding the gesture was in response to the cheers of his faults throughout the match. The loss prevented a meeting against top-ranked Federer as the Swiss moved a step closer to winning his 10th title of 2006 with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Robby Ginepri that put him though to the semis for the first time since 2003. Federer will face fourth-seeded David Nalbandian, who avenged his defeat in the 2004 final by beating Marat Safin 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (2). Berdych next plays 10th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez in the semifinals after the Chilean won the last five games to rally past No. 15 Novak Djokovic of Serbia 7-5, 5-7, 7-5. Nadal told Berdych he was "a bad person" for gesturing as he did. "When I played him in the Czech Republic, the crowd was the same and I didn't say anything," said Nadal, who also referenced the treatment he received at the Swedish Open last week, where he lost to Sweden native Joachim Johansson. "If you play against a local player, that's normal, that's good for tennis because the public supports you," Nadal said. Berdych in control The 11th-seeded Berdych controlled from the start, using powerful ground strokes to keep Nadal deep behind the baseline. "When he's playing his best tennis he is running and everywhere and can hit some incredible shots - but I can't remember him playing any other style of game," Berdych said. "This is the kind of game I like, that he's running behind the baseline and hitting balls just over the net so I could go in and volley or stay back and play from the baseline." Berdych earned the only break of the match in the fourth game of the first set, and both players held through the second to set up the tiebreaker. Nadal - who hasn't made it past the quarterfinals of his four events played since losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final - squandered a double-break point in the eighth game of the second set after he earned the opportunity with a tremendous passing shot. Federer - trying to become the first player in the Open era to win 10 titles three straight years - tied Ivan Lendl's 24-year mark of successive 80-win seasons with the victory. "I've walked off the court as a winner 80 times this season, only five times as a loser - that's a great record for me," Federer said. Federer won the first set in 27 minutes. Both players held serve to take the second to a tiebreaker - Federer third in two matches - where Federer pressured Ginepri into three unforced errors that cost the American. Though Federer and Nalbandian have split their previous 12 encounters, the Argentine has only beaten Federer once since 2003 - in last year's Masters Cup final. Nalbandian reached the Madrid semifinals for the third straight year as Safin committed 74 unforced errors - four in the third-set tiebreaker. In the decider, Safin broke to lead 6-5, but Nalbandian broke right back and took the tiebreaker to prevail in 2 hours, 57 minutes. Unforced errors cost the 19-year-old Djokovic in the final set as he fell to Gonzalez. The 10th-seeded Chilean held serve while breaking Djokovic twice to come from 5-2 down to advance to his fourth Masters series semifinal of 2006. (AP)

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