Berdych survives Ferrer scrap to reach last four

Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:06am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Big-serving Czech Tomas Berdych fended off a belated challenge from baseline hustler David Ferrer to reach his maiden Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday with a gritty 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory.

The rangy seventh seed cruised to a two-set lead over a surprisingly listless Ferrer but spontaneously collapsed in the third set under pressure from the dogged Spaniard.

Ferrer appeared primed to drag the match into an epic struggle but lost focus at 2-2 in the fourth set to surrender serve with a string of unforced errors.

Berdych grimly held onto the advantage, surviving a breakpoint when serving for the match, to seal a semi-final with either triple defending champion Novak Djokovic or eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka.

Berdych has long chipped away at the dominance of the 'Big Four' of men's tennis, and reached the final at Wimbledon in 2010, but his victory over Ferrer was his first on center court in Melbourne, where he has generally been relegated to the second show-court in Hisense Arena.

"That's how the setup is. Really, I'm not complaining at all," the 28-year-old told reporters, having made the semi-finals in his 11th appearance at Melbourne Park.

"Both are great arenas with great crowds. The important (thing) is to keep winning, and finally I have a first scalp here, as well."

A baseline pounder with a ferocious forehand, the low-profile Czech has now earned another headline appearance in Rod Laver Arena and believes he is playing some of the best tennis of his career.   Continued...

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic celebrates defeating David Ferrer of Spain in their men's singles quarter-final tennis match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip