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Federer Tipped Over by Berdych, Venus Saunters Into Semis

Nearly a year, Madrid May 2009, has elapsed since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal butted heads in an ATP final.  Fans were hopeful that Federer and Nadal would rekindle their rivalry at the Sony Ericsson Open.  That possibility was dashed in the fourth round as Tomas Berdych beat Federer 6-4,6-7,7-6.

Federer had been fumbling his way through the tournament.  Still, the wish was that the world number one’s luck would not run out.  Subsequent to Berdych and Federer’s first meeting at the 2004 Athens Olympics where the former prevailed, the latter has claimed their next eight bouts.  At the 2009 Australian Open, Berdych carried the first two sets, but still went down in flames.  Perhaps that performance bolstered Berdych’s morale leading him to believe that his fortune could be better in a best of three sets contest.

After a double fault gave Federer a break point, the world number one broke to open the match, then consolidated for 2-1.  In a game where Federer donated a double fault, Berdych got two chances to break.  On his second opportunity, Berdych knotted the set at 3 all.  Down the road as Federer served to push the set to a tiebreaker, at love-40, he double faulted to gift Berdych the set.

From the opening game of the second set, Federer applied pressure, but failed to convert on four break point opportunities.  The same story was repeated in the 7th and 9th games.  Finally in a tiebreaker, Federer captured the second set.

In the third set, after breaking, Berdych stretched his advantage to 3-1. However, serving at 4-3,  Berdych double faulted on double break point to equalize things at 4 all.  With no break point the rest of the way, a tiebreaker settled the set.  Post saving match point at 6-7, Berdych won the next three points to seal the victory and quarterfinal spot.

Fernando Verdasco, Berdych’s quarterfinal opponent, is probably relieved not to see Federer against whom he has a 4-0 lifetime mark.  Verdasco triumphed over the 7th seed, Marin Cilic, 6-4,7-6.

In the round of 16, Nadal clashed with countryman David Ferrer.  After the two exchanged early service breaks and neither manufactured another break point, the set went to a tiebreaker.  In the latter stages, Nadal finally strung together two consecutive points to claim it.  In the second set, Nadal went up by a break.  However, again, Ferrer crawled back to 4 all.  With Ferrer serving to tie the set at 5 all, Nadal gained the upper hand and penned his name into the quarterfinals .  Nadal takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  Earlier in the day, Tsonga sent Juan Carlos Ferrero home in straight sets 6-2,6-2.

Also into the quarterfinals are Andy Roddick and Nicolas Almagro.  Roddick defeated Benjamin Becker 7-6,6-3.  Almagro prevailed over Thomaz Bellucci in three sets.  These two will do battle in the next round.

Unfortunately for Mardy Fish, a sciatic nerve injury caused him to pull out of his match against Mikhail Youzhny.  Fish was on the losing end 1-6,0-1 when he retired.  Youzhny has Robin Soderling as his quarterfinal adversary.  Soderling dismissed Fernando Gonzalez in three sets 6-0,6-7,6-2.

After fighting off Daniela Hantuchova tooth and nail to advance to the quarterfinals, Williams eased her way to the semifinals with a 6-3,6-1 win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Williams secured a break for 2-1 on Radwanska’s opening game.  Promptly though, Radwanska squared the set at 2 a piece.  Then, with back to back double faults, Radwanska went down 15-30, Williams won the next two points for a 5-4 lead.   With an easy game, Williams closed out the first set.  The second set, Williams once more took Radwanska’s first service game.  By allowing Radwanska only one game the entire set, Williams walked into the semis.

Venus meets Marion Bartoli.  Bartoli defeated Yanina Wickmayer 6-4,7-5 to advance to her first semifinal in Miami.

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