Big-serving Czech Tomas Berdych caused the first major upset of the Rome Masters yesterday when he ousted World No 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Berdych, who had beaten Djokovic only once in their last 14 meetings, prevailed 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to book himself an unlikely place in the semi-finals and boost his chances ahead of the French Open.
Berdych’s serve and his combinations of shots had Djokovic in trouble from the middle of the second set, when he launched his fightback. Although he paid tribute to his opponent, Djokovic said: “I lost this game by myself.
“I just lost a bit of concentration. I started playing more defensively. “The match turned around, he gained confidence and I had a few unforced errors. “At this level you have to take the opportunities when they come to you.”
Berdych will now meet the winner of the quarter-final between David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal in today’s semi-finals. Nadal is the defending Rome champion but has come into this year’s tournament seeded only fifth having spent several months on the sidelines recovering from injury.
Earlier, French surprise package Benoit Paire continued his good run of form by qualifying for the final four with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Spaniard Marcel Granollers.
Sharapova pulls out citing injury
Maria Sharapova, who was due to play Italy’s Sara Errani, withdrew from the women’s event through illness yesterday. World No 2 Sharapova said the thought of not recovering in time to defend her French Open title had prompted her to pull out of the Rome Open. However, the Russian announced her withdrawal yesterday morning, citing sickness and claiming she had run a temperature overnight.
Bhupathi-Bopanna in quarter-final
India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna made their way into the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters yesterday after beating the unseeded British duo of Dominic Inglot and Jonathan Marray 6-2, 6-3.