ATP Western & Southern Open: Rafael Nadal to face John Isner in the final
Rafael Nadal will face John Isner in the final of the Western & Southern Open after beating Tomas Berdych.
Last Updated: 18/08/13 11:17pm
Berdych, fresh off his quarter-final upset of No 2 seed Andy Murray, started well and held his first five service games, although neither player was able to secure that all-important break of serve.
However, the resurgent Nadal finally made the breakthrough in the 11th game, taking the first break point of the set - avoiding the tie-breaker in the process.
The Spaniard raced into a 40-0 lead on his serve to secure three set points, although Berdych showed some fighting spirit by saving two. However, at the third time of asking Nadal clinched the first set 7-5.
The players held serve to start the second and Nadal tried to turn the screw in the third game. The French Open champion piled on the pressure by moving 40-15 in front, but some big serving from the Czech ace turned the game around.
Stay of execution
Berdych had a break point in the sixth game of the second set, but a long forehand gave Nadal a stay of execution. He did however take his second and move 4-2 in front following a loose forehand by the Spaniard.
But Nadal responded in champion fashion by breaking back at the first time of asking to square the second set - a series of powerful forehands proving too much for his opponent.
Berdych was unable to convert four break points in the ensuing game to allow Nadal to square up the second set at four-games apiece.
The quality of the tennis increased as the match progressed. Berdych eventually moved 6-5 in front, but only after a marathon game that lasted seven minutes and 19 seconds.
Nadal held serve to force a tie-breaker and it was the Spaniard who triumphed when it mattered, taking the set 7-6 and ultimately the match.
Earlier on Saturday, Isner followed up his victory over Novak Djokovic by beating Juan Martin del Potro to reach his second Masters series final.
American tennis reached a historic low on Monday when Isner dropped out of the top 20, making it the first time since the rankings began that no US player has been at that level.
But the 28-year-old has answered the critics in the best possible fashion with one of the best weeks of his career.
On Friday Isner stunned world number one Djokovic in the quarter-finals and today he recovered from a seemingly impossible position to beat seventh seed Del Potro 6-7 (7-5) 7-6 (11-9) 6-3.
Del Potro broke to lead 5-3 in the second set and held a match point but served a double fault, Isner broke back and then took his fifth chance in the tie-break.
The Argentine looked lethargic and could find no way back after Isner won the first three games of the decider.