After 17 straight losses to Rafael Nadal, can Tomas Berdych finally upset the apple cart and bag a win? His form this week would suggest he’s in with a shot. In the last two rounds, Berdych has taken out two in-form players both in straight sets. In the third round, he beat Viktor Troicki, 6-4 6-3 6-4 and in the fourth round, he overcame Bernard Tomic, 6-2 7-6(3) 6-2. Berdych is always a solid and reliable player at the Slams in best of five set matches, but particularly at the Australian Open. This is his fifth consecutive year in the quarter-finals of Melbourne; in the four previous years, he’s only once made it past this stage which was in 2014 when he lost to Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals.
Nadal progressed into the quarters with a straight sets win over Kevin Anderson, 7-5 6-1 6-4. After a tight opening set where Anderson more than held his own, it was Nadal’s mental toughness (or Anderson’s lack of) that split the players. Nadal won the opening set and then won the next two rather convincingly. Nadal was severely tested against Tim Smyczek in the second round, but will become more and more dangerous the longer he stays in the tournament.
Back in 2006, Berdych won three consecutive matches against Nadal to take a dominant lead in their head-to-head. Eight years on and Berdych is still seeking another win against the Spaniard. Match-ups mean a lot in tennis. This is a purely mental issue and even though Nadal is not at his best, it’s hard to picture Berdych suddenly conjuring up a victory and staying calm enough to put him away. Berdych’s best match with Nadal in recent years came at the Australian Open in 2012. Berdych played a terrific first two sets, even having a set point to go up two sets to love. He didn’t take it and Nadal grew stronger and stronger during the match, eventually prevailing in four sets. I believe Berdych has his best shot at the upset of Nadal in quite sometime. I fancy he will get a one set, but I don’t believe he can win three.
Prediction: Nadal d. Berdych in 4 sets