Tomas Berdych set out to become a member of the final four club at the Australian Open and while it didn't come easy, the tall Czech stood strong and took down the tireless David Ferrer 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4.
With the victory, Berdych joined an exclusive group of players to have made semifinal appearances at all four Grand Slam tournaments - having previously reached the final four at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open.
“That was the thing in my agenda, but my coach [Tomas Krupa] told me this is the only court I hadn’t won a match on,” Berdych said referring to Rod Laver Arena.
The 28-year-old has been a very good, but not great player in Melbourne in prior years, reaching the quarterfinals from 2011-2013, but going down to two of the world’s best in Novak Djokovic (twice) and Rafael Nadal.
Ferrer came into the match with a 7-4 edge over Berdych and while he is known to some as a master of clay, he is actually an excellent hard court player and had won six of their last eight meetings, including four on hard courts.
However, Berdych had won their last match at the 2013 ATP World Finals in November and while that contest was played on indoors, the Czech showed that he stayed a little more patient and waited for his openings that he had a real chance at a victory.
That is exactly what he did in Melbourne, making sure to dictate when he could, but rarely going wild. He did not allow Ferrer to string him out in numerous rallies and turn the contest into a foot race.
However, after handily winning the first two sets and holding break points in the third, Berdych lost his focus a bit and Ferrer roared, stepping inside the court and snaring the set.
The Spaniard loves long and physical contests and hoped to take it to a fifth set, but Berdych kept whaling away from inside the baseline, breaking Ferrer to 3-2 when he erred on a forehand. Berdych held a match point with Ferrer serving at 5-3, but nudged a return long.
Serving for the match at 5-4, he faced a break point himself, but crushed an inside-out forehand winner. Berdych then plastered a forehand crosscourt that Ferrer couldn't handle, and won the match with a service winner.
“It’s extremely tough physically with David always and after losing third set and not playing well, I tried to be focused for every point,” said Berdych, who nailed 43 winners to 30 from Ferrer.
Berdych will play the winner of the match between defending champion Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka in the semifinal.
“Well, I'm playing well,” he said. “I feeling really good. It's going really well this 10 days already. If it's enough for Novak or Stan, let's see. I need to rest. I need to prepare. I need to make the same approach as I did in those past matches, really believe in myself, believe in my game. Whatever is going to happen on court, I need to be ready for it. “