• Internazionali BNL d'Italia

Awesome Nadal swats away Berdych

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal's movement was slick in Rome © PA Photos
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Rafael Nadal fired out a warning to his rivals with a stunning display against Tomas Berdych at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Roger Federer leapfrogged Nadal to No. 2 in the world in Madrid last week, but back on the red clay the Spaniard was in mesmerising touch. Berdych is viewed by some as a decent outside bet for the French Open and he performed with credit in this quarter-final, but he was still no match for Nadal who claimed a 6-4 7-5 win.

Nadal is at home on the Rome clay, being a five-time winner of the event, and he made a signal of intent in the opening point. It looked like Berdych had played the ideal point as he came in for the kill, but Nadal tracked down a backhand and flashed the ball down the line for a winner. A brilliant inside-out forehand earned Nadal three break points and at the third time of asking he edged ahead.

Berdych got on the board with a love hold in third game and he went after the Nadal second serve and a rasping backhand worked a break point. But it was fended off, as Nadal found excellent depth when under pressure.

Time and again in the first set Berdych thought he had hit winners, only to see the ball come back with interest. And with Nadal's length simply phenomenal, the Czech had no answer as the first set went away in 45 minutes.

Berdych was not embarrassed in the opening set, he matched Nadal in the second and a sweet drop shot earned him a break in the sixth game. The Czech attempted to blast Nadal off the court in the following game, but the maestro of clay fired back in style to get the set back on serve.

The pressure was ramped up in the 11th game, as Nadal went after Berdych. The Czech attempted to take the impetus but a brilliant backhand pass earned the Spaniard two break points and he sealed it with a fizzing, spinning forehand.

Nadal rarely falters with the winning line in sight and there was never any chance of a repeat of his capitulation against Fernando Verdasco last week. He moved to match point with a drop shot of the highest class and after passing up a couple of chances, he sealed the win when Berdych threw a forehand wide.

Up next for Nadal is his compatriot David Ferrer who eased to a 7-6(4) 6-3 win over Andy Murray's conqueror Richard Gasquet.

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