A rejuvenated Rafael Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-6 (4) last night to book a spot in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif. The tournament was defending-champion Nadal’s first since retiring against Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January. Nadal will meet Croatian Ivan Ljubicic in one of tomorrow’s two semifinals. Ljubicic defeated Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the first quarterfinal Thursday afternoon. The No. 3-ranked Spaniard used every bit of the court in defeating Berdych for the sixth straight time. He mixed topspin with power off the forehand side, slipped in drop shots, and painted the corners with precision ground strokes. “I’m playing a big forehand from baseline and going inside the court, being more aggressive,” Nadal said. Despite the straight-sets scoreline, the two-hour, 11-minute match was an extremely tight contest as Berdych made Nadal work hard for the win. Nadal broke the big Czech to start the match, but Berdych stopped Nadal from running away with the set when he fought off three break points in the fifth game to hold. Berdych broke to level at 4-4, but the Spaniard answered with a vengeance, breaking back at love and then serving out the set. Nadal drew first blood in the second set, breaking serve in the seventh game, but immediately squandered the advantage as Berdych broke back for 4-4. Each held serve twice to force a tiebreaker. Nadal prevailed 7-4, winning the final two points on his serve after a Berdych double fault at 4-4. The Spaniard leaped for joy as his stern game face turned to a smile. “I played really well, especially the first set,” Nadal said. “The first eight, nine games was an unbelievable level. Later the wind came in and it was more difficult to play.” Nadal improved to 7-3 lifetime against Berdych. Andy Roddick tees it up against Tommy Robredo and Andy Murray battles Robin Soderling in the remaining two quarterfinals Friday afternoon.
Nadal Defeats Berdych at Indian Wells
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