Tomas Berdych ended his incredible losing streak against Rafael Nadal in brilliant style to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Berdych won three of his first four meetings with Nadal but had not tasted victory over the Spaniard since 2006, his 17 straight defeats equalling a record in the open era.
However, the 29-year-old picked the ideal time to end the sequence with a stunning 6-2 6-0 7-6 (7/5) victory on Rod Laver Arena and has yet to drop a set in the championship.
It was just the third time Nadal had lost a set 6-0 in a grand slam, the most recent being to Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon final and the other in the second round of the 2004 US Open against Andy Roddick.
The nine-time French Open champion also lost a set 6-0 to Britain’s Andy Murray in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi earlier this month and had constantly maintained he was not a top contender in Melbourne due to the wrist injury and appendicitis which ruined the latter half of 2014.
“I was definitely ready for it, I set up my plan pretty well and stuck with that all the way through the three sets,” Berdych said in an on-court interview. “I was expecting a very tough battle but I was ready for everything and I think that was the biggest difference.
“I started pretty well but you are playing Rafa and you have to really keep going until the last point. You have to be ready for everything. He is a great fighter but I stayed focused and kept doing my stuff and it was working pretty good.”
Berdych praised the influence of new coach Dani Vallverdu, who previously helped Murray win grand slam titles at the US Open and Wimbledon. Murray or Australia’s Nick Kyrgios will face Berdych in the semi-finals.
“I’ve been really happy with how we work together so far but the good thing is I am already able to execute the things on the court,” Berdych added. “It works well. We set up a great plan for today and it worked so what could be better?”