[CR3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR7] Tomas Berdych (CZE)
No was the answer to the questions. Nadal did not surprise his fans and make it to the final, and he did not continue his dominance of Berdych. Nadal played timidly. The majority of his shots were landing too short in the court and rather than attacking, he was defending the entire match. When he did try to attack, his lack of conviction produced uncharacteristic errors. Nadal was unable to adjust his game, something that in previous years he was so good at doing, and remained frustrated by Berdych’s ability to execute his, almost to perfection in the first two sets.
Could he do what he has done before, dig deep and make this a match? He had opportunities; however, there were so many signs that Nadal has lost his confidence. His inability to break Berdych and his number of double faults were the two most telling ones. It is not a surprise that Berdych won 6-2, 6-0, 7-6(5); what’s been confounding is that he had lost seventeen consecutive matches to Nadal given his talent. The reason Berdych won this match so convincingly was due to his superior confidence. He believed where previously he doubted and this is a direct result of seeing his opponent’s recent struggle and public admission that he has lost his confidence in his game.
Sometimes you say that a player won because his opponent never showed up; while, this may be true in part for this match, I must admit that Berdych thoroughly outplayed Nadal. The first two sets were the most brilliant tennis I had seen from him in a long time and to do so against Nadal was doubly astounding.
Berdych has not dropped a set the entire tournament; can he maintain this level of play and make it to another major final?