Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Aussie Open Day 9 highlights: Berdych upsets Nadal

Tomas Berdych practices during the BNP Paribas Open
at Indian Wells last year. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Upset and match of the day -- Before the Australian Open began, Rafael Nadal said he wasn't in good enough shape to win the title. He was right.
   Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic dismantled the third-seeded Nadal 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (5) on Monday (PST in the United States) to reach the semifinals at Melbourne Park.
   Coming into the Australian Open, Nadal had played only eight matches since last June because of a right wrist injury and appendix surgery in November. The 28-year-old Spaniard has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, tied for second all-time with Pete Sampras behind Roger Federer's 17.
   Nadal had reached the final in his last two appearances in the Australian Open, losing to Novak Djokovic in a 5-hour, 53-minute epic in 2012 and to Stan Wawrinka last year. Nadal missed the 2013 tournament with a knee injury. He won his only Australian Open title in 2009, beating Federer in five sets.
   Berdych ended a 17-match losing streak to Nadal dating to 2007 and improved to 4-18 in the head-to-head series. In Berdych's only Grand Slam final, he lost to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2010.
   Notable -- No. 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia advanced to her second straight Grand Slam semifinal, rolling to a 6-4, 6-0 victory over third-seeded Simona "I Need" Halep of Romania.
   Makarova will meet countrywoman Maria Sharapova, the second seed who dominated seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-3, 6-2.
   In the featured night match, sixth-seeded Andy Murray ended the run of 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3.  
   Men's semifinal matchups (seedings in parentheses) -- No. 6 Murray vs. No. 7 Berdych, No. 1 Djokovic or No. 8 Milos Raonic vs. No. 4 Wawrinka or No. 5 "Special K" Kei Nishikori.
   Women's semifinal matchups -- No. 2 Sharapova vs. No. 10 Makarova, No. 1 Serena Williams or No. 11 Dominika Cibulkova vs. No. 18 Venus "And Mars" Williams or Madison "Avenue" Keys.
   Stars and stripes -- Unseeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands of Phoenix and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic upset Makarova and countrywoman Elena Vesnina, the third seeds and last year's runners-up, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2 to reach the women's doubles semifinals.
   The last remaining American in mixed doubles, 41-year-old Lisa Raymond, lost in the second round with Robert Lindstedt of Sweden.  
   Northern California connection -- Murray, a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, won the first of his 31 career titles in San Jose at 18 in 2006 and repeated the following year. He never returned, and the tournament folded after 2013. 
   Fifth-seeded Raquel Kops-Jones, a San Jose resident and former Cal star, and Abigail Spears lost to 13th-seeded Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the women's doubles quarterfinals.
   Kops-Jones, 32, and Spears, 33, advanced to the semifinals last year for their best Grand Slam result. Krajicek, 26, is the sister of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek.
   Sameer Kumar, a Carmel, Ind., resident who's headed to Stanford next year, ousted ninth-seeded Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the second round of junior boys singles.
   Lindstedt, 37, played at Fresno State before transferring to Pepperdine.
   Fast facts -- Nadal was shut out in a set in a Grand Slam match for the first time since losing to Federer 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-3 in the 2006 Wimbledon final. Federer was 24 and Nadal 20 at the time.
   This is only the second time since the 2004 French Open that neither Federer, who lost to unseeded Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round, nor Nadal has reached the semifinals of a Slam. Federer lost to Berdych in the quarterfinals of the 2012 U.S. Open, and Nadal missed the tournament with his knee injury.
   Quote -- Nadal: "As I said when I got here, it is always tough to come back from injuries. I am feeling OK, but it was not my day. Quarterfinals here is not bad for me."

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