Czech Tomas Berdych overpowered world number four Andy Murray in their Monte Carlo Masters quarter-final on Friday to set up a clash with top seed Novak Djokovic. The sixth seed relied on his powerful forehand to prevail 6-7 6-2 6-3 over the Briton in the season’s first big claycourt event. Djokovic thrashed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-4 6-2 in 77 minutes. Rafael Nadal is still on track to clinch a record eighth consecutive title after seeing off Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5 6-4. He will take on France’s Gilles Simon,the ninth seed,who upset comnpatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by the same scoreline.
On a chilly morning,Murray grabbed the opening set as Berdych wasted four set-point chances in the 12th game before faltering in the tie-break. As the sun eventually shone and the sea glittered,the world number seven tightened his grip and hit numerous winners to unsettle a frustrated Murray,who now has a 2-4 win-loss record against Berdych.
The Scot who spent most of the match far behind his baseline struggled with his footwork and made unusual errors,including a backhand smash which went wide to grant Berdych a decisive break in the third set’s third game.
Djokovic,who had to control his emotions on Thursday to move past Alexandr Dolgopolov a few hours after learning of his grandfather’s death,moved more easily past 55-ranked Haase. The packed crowd gave the Australian,Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion an ovation and stayed supportive throughout the match. Djokovic easily beat the Dutchman despite having some trouble focusing in the first set,in which he loosened up to let Haase recover from 1-4 to 4-4.
Holder Nadal had to work hard to fend off a relentless Wawrinka and earn his 40th victory in a row in the principality where he has been unbeaten since 2005.