WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN
Berdych Knocks Out Federer; Djokovic Up Next
by ATP Staff|
No. 8 seed Tomas Berdych ousted two-time defending champion Roger Federer on Friday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, defeating the third seed 6-2, 7-6(3) in one hour and 32 minutes. The Czech will square off against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, after the Serbian rallied to defeat No. 6 seed Gael Monfils 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a night-session clash.
Berdych won 75 per cent of his points on serve and did not face a break point during his encounter with Federer. "I was really working on [my serve] after Wimbledon," said Berdych. "When I had few weeks off, I was really practising hard, and especially this was the one main thing that I was really like trying to work on more than the other things."
The 25 year old broke Federer twice in the opening set and continued to serve well in the second set, winning 19 of his 20 first service points. In the tie-break, Berdych never trailed, and after squandering his first two mini-break leads at 2-0 and 3-2, the Czech moved ahead 6-3, serving out the victory on his first match point. "I was winning quite easily as far as games and I was able to play something more on his serve," Berdych assessed. "It makes me more confident and then I can go more for the shots, especially on his second serve."
Federer admitted afterwards that Berdych was the better player. "I definitely didn't feel like I was getting a great read on his serve today, and that definitely cost me a bit of maybe giving myself more opportunities and just getting into the rallies more on his service games, which then maybe would have allowed me to try out a few things and so forth," said Federer. "I thought he served well. He played a good match. Unfortunately I didn't play a very good tie-break, and he was better than me today."
Berdych improved his head-to-head record against the Swiss to a 4-9 mark, and has won three of their past four meetings. He is looking to reach his first final of the season, having advanced to the quarter-finals or better at 13 of the 17 events he’s entered in 2011. Friday’s win puts the World No. 9 into his sixth semi-final of the year.
On Saturday, Berdych will look to become just the second player to defeat Djokovic this season. The Serbian overcame a slow start to defeat Monfils in two hours and 33 minutes, a huge contrast to last week in Montreal when Djokovic lost just three games against the World No. 8 in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals. "I had my chances [in the] first set; didn't use them. I didn't step in when I needed to," evaluated Djokovic. "But in the middle of the second set, I started playing better. Stepped in when I needed to. It was a very physical match in the end. He struggled I think more physically. But I hung in there, and in the end it was a good win."
Monfils started strong, breaking Djokovic twice in the opening set. The Serb let a break advantage slip in the second set, but a double fault by Monfils gave Djokovic a 5-4 lead, and he served it out to send the match into a deciding set. Djokovic broke Monfils to begin the third set and held on to notch his 30th win in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 play this season, and increasing his sensational record in 2011 to a 56-1 mark.
Djokovic is bidding to win his sixth Masters 1000 title of the year, and first crown in Cincinnati, having finished runner-up in 2008 (l. to Murray) and 2009 (l. to Federer). He holds a 6-1 record against Berdych, with all of his victories against the Czech coming on hard courts. "It's a very fast court where he plays really well this tournament. He won today against Federer quite comfortably. He was hitting the ball extremely well," Djokovic said. "He will be aggressive, I'm sure, but it's another big match. It's a semi-final."