Czech Tomas Berdych snapped a run of 11 consecutive defeats by world No 1 Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the Rome Masters before Rafa Nadal was stretched to the limit against David Ferrer.
Berdych clawed his way back from a 6-2, 5-2 deficit to stun the Serbian top seed 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 and set up a semi-final meeting with Nadal, who for the second week running outlasted compatriot Ferrer in a fierce claycourt scrap.
Nadal won 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 for his ninth consecutive victory over Ferrer who hit the Mallorcan with every weapon in his locker but still came up short as he did in Madrid last week. “It was an extremely tough match, David always takes you to the limit,” said Nadal.
Frenchman Benoit Paire dropped just one game against Marcel Granollers of Spain to reach his first Masters Series semi-final where he will play either Roger Federer or Jerzy Janowicz.
In the women’s event, Serena Williams pulverised Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 to reach the last four but there will be no re-run of last week’s Madrid final after Maria Sharapova was forced to withdraw from her quarter-final against Sara Errani because of illness.