TORONTO — Roger Federer exacted some revenge on Tomas Berdych Friday at the Rogers Cup, mounting a furious rally to win a thrilling quarter-final match 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5) and move a step closer to a possible showdown with Rafael Nadal in the final.
At one point down 1-4 in the third set, the world No. 3 broke Berdych to get to 2-4, before holding serve and then breaking him again at 3-5 to get back on serve and eventually, force a tie-breaker.
In the tie-breaker, Federer surged to a 4-0 lead, but Berdych fought back to 5-5 before his forehand return went long on match point to hand Federer the win.
"It almost slipped away from me tonight," a relieved Federer said following the match. "I got really lucky tonight.
“It’s a great victory for me,” he added. “Good for me, good for my confidence. The more I play, the more rust I get rid of.”
In Saturday’s semi-final, Federer will play No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic after he beat Jeremy Chardy of France Friday, 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic’s win means for the first time since 1987 all four top seeds have advanced to the semi-finals at this event.
Berdych, who beat Federer earlier this year at Wimbledon and at the Miami Masters, was attempting to join Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian as the only players to beat the 16-time Grand Slam champion three times in one calendar year.
In addition to Federer, the No. 7 seed Berdych also had to deal with a hostile Rexall Centre crowd, with one fan yelling out right before he served in the tie-breaker, "Nervous, Berdych?" forcing him to back off.
Not surprisingly, Federer had a different experience with the Toronto fans. "It was an incredible atmosphere at the end," he said.
As for Nadal, he gutted out a tough, three-set win over Philipp Kohlschreiber 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 Friday to set up a semi-final showdown with Andy Murray, who won his quarter-final match earlier in the day.
The 26-year-old Kohlschreiber, ranked No. 37 stunned the centre court crowd by taking the first set. But just as he has in previous matches this week, Nadal picked up his play in the second set to keep the tournament organizers’ dream of a Nadal-Federer final on Sunday alive.
"Today, I started terrible in the beginning," said Nadal. "I didn’t play well but I was trying to play aggressive. Playing well or playing bad, I have to play aggressive."
Head-to-head Nadal holds a 8-3 career advantage over Murray, including a dominating win over him last month in the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
But the last time to two met on a hard court—at the Australian Open in January—it was Murray who prevailed, 6-3, 7-6, 3-0 before Nadal was forced to retire.
"Playing on a hard court, it’s harder to beat him," Nadal said of Murray. "If you’re not playing your best (against Murray) it’s impossible to beat him. If you are playing your best, it’s still very difficult."
Murray punched his ticket to the semi-final by defeating David Nalbandian in straight sets Friday, 6-2, 6-2. Murray’s impressive performance brought an end to Nalbandian’s 11-match winning streak, going back to his tournament win last week in Washington at the Legg Mason Classic.
"It`s one of the best matches I`ve played all year, honestly," said Murray. "It definitely gives me confidence for the rest of the tournament. I served really well today and was able to dictate a lot of points."
Nalbandian, whose win last week came in his first tournament back, following a lengthy absence due to a hamstring injury, said he simply ran out of steam.
"I feel a little tired, but I’m pretty happy with how I played this week," he said. "Andy played very good, great. He was really aggressive."
The 23-year-old Scot, who recently split from his coach of nearly three years, Miles Maclagen, is without a tournament victory in 2010 and must reach the final at worst if he is to retain his No. 4 ranking.
Nestor-Zimnojic ousted, rip organziers Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic’s 2010 Rogers Cup was short and far more bitter than sweet.
The Toronto native and his men’s doubles partner, Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia lost their quarter-final match today in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (5) to the unseeded duo of Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Michal Mertinak of Slovakia and afterwards ripped tournament organizers for scheduling their match so early in the day.
"I was very surprised after playing late last night that we were put to play at 11:00 a.m., first match on, when I thought we could play third match maybe after two singles where more people could come," said Zimonjic. "I was very disappointed, first of all, for Daniel and then for myself, as well because in my opinion there was a little disrespect to come out and play at 11:00 a.m. being the last Canadian in the tournament, playing for so many years for Davis Cup and being No. 1 in the world in doubles."
Nestor and Zimonjic played early Thursday evening and won their opening doubles match 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 over the team of Mark Knowles and Radek Stepanek.
When asked if he agreed with his partner’s sentiments, Nestror replied, "Yeah, probably, but you know, I don’t want to make excuses. We could have played better."