Iron-willed Czech Tomas Berdych ended eight years of tyranny under nemesis Rafa Nadal to storm into the Australian Open semifinals yesterday before his next opponent, Andy Murray, restored British colonial rule to the floodlit centre court.
Maria Sharapova inflicted another grand slam reality check on Eugenie Bouchard and will play an all-Russian semifinal with plucky lefthander Ekaterina Makarova, who thrashed third seed Simona Halep on a surprising day at Melbourne Park.
In the evening session, Murray struck back for the old guard, slapping down local teenager Nick Kyrgios 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3 to deflate home fans pumped up by the traditional sporting rivalry with former colonial masters Britain.
But it was Nadal’s 6-2 6-0 7-6(5) humbling on an unseasonably cold summer’s day that rocked Melbourne Park – and shook the biggest monkey in the men’s game off the back of Berdych.
The big-serving Czech’s 17-match losing streak to the Spaniard was the equallongest in the professional era and snapping it was due to a well executed plan.
“Oh, it feels great,” Berdych said. “Everything was working. I was able to execute it really well.”
The rangy 29-year-old was irresistible in the first two sets against Nadal, wrapping them up in exactly an hour and giving the 14-times grand slam champion his first grand slam bagel since the 2006 Wimbledon final against Roger Federer.
“It was just not my day. I didn’t play with the right intensity, the right rhythm,” a disappointed Nadal, who was nonetheless content with his run after coming back from injury and illness, said.
Black-clad Murray was all business against brash 19-year-old Kyrgios and needed to be for much of a high-quality encounter on a chilly, windy evening.
Sharapova completed a 78-minute rout of another young upstart in Canadian Bouchard.
Third seed Halep had cruised into the quarterfinals by smiting lowerranked opponents but ran head-first into a brick wall in the form of lithe left-hander Makarova. The 26-year-old Makarova blew the nerve-stricken Halep away and now faces Sharapova.