MONTE CARLO (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych was as giddy as a little boy after overpowering 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 made the Briton dizzy as he relied on his powerful forehand to prevail 6-7 6-2 6-3 in the season’s first big claycourt event, where Rafa Nadal is still on track to defend his title after seeing off Stanislas Wawrinka.
Czech Berdych, who already reached the semi-final of the Mediterranean glamour tournament in 2007, will face world number one Djokovic after the Serb thrashed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-4 6-2 in 77 minutes.
“It’s a day to play the No. 1 player in the world, which is always great. It’s a semi-final, which is fantastic,” Berdych told a news conference.
“But still, I want to play my best tennis and I want to do well.”
Holder Nadal, who is chasing an record eighth consecutive crown in the principality, also booked his place in the semi-final when he defeated Swiss Wawrinka 7-5 6-4.
The Spaniard, who worked hard to fend off a relentless Wawrinka, will take on a Frenchman as Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were meeting in the last quarter-final.
On a chilly morning, Murray had the luck to grab 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.
“He played extremely well today. He dictated a lot of the points. He went for his shots. He served very well, I think, too,” Murray told reporters.
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.
“There are a lot of things I would have liked to have done better,” added Murray, who was playing his first clay event this season.
“It takes a lot of time for me to do it on this surface. It doesn’t come straightaway. It takes time for me to understand the way I‘m needing to play.”
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.
“Tomas is a threat for anybody on any surface,” Djokovic, who has an 8-1 record over the Czech, told reporters as he looked ahead to Saturday’s semi.
“It’s a big challenge for me to see if I‘m able to keep the focus throughout the whole match because this is the only way I can actually get a win against Tomas.”
Editing by Mark Meadows