World No.1 stunned 2-6 7-5 6-4 by Berdych in the quarterfinals of Rome Masters
Czech Tomas Berdych tasted only his second victory in 15 clashes with Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the Rome Masters on Friday,coming from nowhere to stun the world number one 2-6 7-5 6-4 at the Foro Italico.
Djokovic looked poised for a routine victory with some majestic tennis putting him 6-2 5-2 ahead but Berdych’s power game suddenly caught fire to leave the Serb reeling.
“It was a very weird match,” Djokovic told reporters. “I lost concentration and I started to play too defensively and did not convert my opportunities and I lost this match on my own.
“I need to make sure that I don’t have highs and lows. I’m sure that I will be ready for Paris.”
Apart from a victory in the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finals it has been a tale of woe for Berdych against Djokovic,including two defeats this year,but the world number six produced a display that augurs well for his French Open hopes.
“It’s a special victory. I was on 11 defeats in a row and it had to stop,” Berdych,who did not even create a break point until Djokovic served for the match at 5-3 in the second set,told reporters.
For Djokovic his Roland Garros preparations have not gone to plan since he beat Rafa Nadal to win the Monte Carlo title. After losing early in Madrid last week,he now snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Berdych.
Frenchman Benoit Paire reached his first Masters Series semi-final with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of Marcel Granollers.
Nadal takes on fellow Spaniard David Ferrer later with Roger Federer up against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
Serena Williams continued her march towards another title by pulverising Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-0 while her most fierce rival Maria Sharapova withdrew from her quarter-final with home favourite Sara Errani because of illness.
Former women’s champion Jelena Jankovic was beaten by Romanian qualifier Simona Halep 4-6 6-0 7-5.
Earlier,defending champion Rafa Nadal recovered from losing the opening five games against Ernests Gulbis to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters on Thursday. The Spaniard,looking for his seventh Rome title,was shaken by a ferocious onslaught from Gulbis,losing the first set in 34 minutes,but recovered to win 1-6 7-5 6-4.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic had a far more comfortable workout,beating Ukraines Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1,6-4 but seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro,who met the Pope the previous day,came back to earth with a surprise defeat by Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Paires 6-4 7-6 victory was the sole highlight for French players,however,with Gilles Simon thrashed by second seed Roger Federer after ninth seed Richard Gasquet lost a stormy encounter with Polish firebrand Jerzy Janowicz.
In the womens tournament World No.1 Serena Williams tied her longest career winning streak with a 6-0,6-1 rout of Dominika Cibulkova,taking her run of victories to 21.
Williams,who served five aces in one game,looks unstoppable but issued a few words of caution.
Nothing is ever perfect. I learned that last year when I felt perfect, Williams said,referring to her first-round loss at last years French Open. I am still in the danger zone.
She was joined in the quarter-finals by Maria Sharapova who breezed past Sloane Stephens 6-2,6-1 while Serbias Jelena Jankovic,a former Rome champion showing signs of a return to her best form,beat Chinas fifth seed Li Na 7-6,7-5.
Nadal will face compatriot David Ferrer in the last eight after he was given a walkover by Germanys Philipp Kohlschreiber who pulled out suffering from vertigo.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna entered the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters but it was curtains for Leander Paes and his Austrian partner Jurgen Melzer. Sixth seed Bhupathi and Bopanna scored a 6-2 6-3 win over unseeded British team of Dominic Inglot and Jonathan Marray in the second round.
However,Paes and Melzer made an early exit after a close 6-7 (4) 6-7 (3) defeat against Mexicos Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky. Bhupathi and Bopanna,who rejoined forces after splitting,next face unseeded Czech pair of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek.