Yesterday, world number 1 Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Rome Masters at the hands of world number 6 Tomas Berdych. The Czech won the three-set match 2-6 7-5 6-4 to book a spot in the semi-finals.
The first set seemed to go pretty much as planned for the Serb, winning it 6-2 and not even allowing his opponent a single break point. Strangely, the second set seemed to be heading to conclude in similar fashion. Djokovic was 5-2 up but Berdych broke the two-time Rome champion’s serve, forming the beginning of the brilliant comeback. The third set was won 6-4, giving the one-time Grand Slam finalist his second win in fifteen matches against Djokovic and, more significantly, a space in the last four of the Rome Masters.
It’s the second time in the space of a week that Berdych has beat a player in the top two, he beat Andy Murray last week in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Masters but then fell at the semi-final hurdle to Stanislas Wawrinka. Meanwhile, Djokovic has won two and lost two since beating the almost-unstoppable Rafael Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters. Rafa is who Berdych is to face in the semi-final. He beat David Ferrer in three sets, as well as coming from behind to beat Enests Gulbis in the round previous. In contrast, the only match Berdych has been forced to three sets in is that with Novak Djokovic. Berdych is one set down to Nadal as I write this.
On the other side of the draw, you could have said we have a foregone conclusion, but we think Benoit Paire and Roger Federer could be a tighter match than most think. Paire has beaten Juan Monaco (ranked 18), Julien Benneteau (32), del Potro (7) and Marcel Granollers (37) on his road to the final. The latter two he beat without breaking a sweat, at 6-4, 7-6 and 6-1, 6-0 respectively. On the other hand, although Federer is deemed by some to be a dwindling star, he is the only player stil in the tournament to have won every game in straight sets. They play once Nadal has finished off Tomas Berdych, but after 8PM – on Court Centrale.
– Nathan Morley & Jacob Lee