Nadal disappointed but bows out content with comeback

Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:30am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A fourth-round thrashing of big-serving South African Kevin Anderson had given Rafa Nadal hope he might be back to his best, but the Spaniard's limited preparations came back to haunt him against Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The rangy Czech played majestically to reach his second semi-final at Melbourne Park, upsetting Nadal 6-2 6-0 7-6(5) to snap a record 17-match losing streak against the 14-times grand slam champion.

Nadal battled hard to keep in touch in the third set and nervelessly saved two match-points to take the decider into a tiebreak.

But the horse had well and truly bolted when Berdych wrapped up the first two sets in a breath-taking hour of clean hitting.

"The third was the right set, the right game that I have to play. But it is obvious that before I didn't play with the right confidence, with the right intensity, losing court, playing very short," Nadal told reporters.

"I make him play very easy. So you cannot expect to win matches in quarter-finals of grand slams helping the opponent to play well. That's what I did."

Nadal played only seven matches in the second half of 2014 after being dumped out of Wimbledon by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios as he struggled to recover from a wrist injury and then appendicitis.

His one lead-up match to his four at Melbourne Park was a first-round loss to German journeyman Michael Berrer at the Qatar Open.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain waves to the crowd after being defeated by Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in their men's singles quarter-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato