World number 5 Rafael Nadal eyes a seventh Italian Open title after defeating Czech Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4 to move closer to a second title in eight days following his Madrid Masters triumph last Sunday. But that will only depend on the outcome of his match against world number two Roger Federer on Sunday.
Nadal will meet 2nd- seed Roger Federer, in Sunday’s final, after the Swiss eliminated Frenchman Benoit Paire, with a 7-6, 6-4 scoreline.
The 27- year- old Berdych had ousted world number one Novak Djokovic earlier this week and had previously beaten Nadal three times in their previous 16 encounters. Four of those were on clay and the 11- time grand slam winner won all fours.
“I’m feeling better physically,” Nadal said.
“There are emotional moments for me as I think I have managed to turn around a situation in which, after many months of doubt, I am able to play at a level that I would not have dreamed of four months ago.”
The 26- year- old Spaniard has now reached eight finals in as many events since returning from a seven- month injury lay- off.
Nadal broke Berdych twice in the opening set, including in the opening game, but the Czech came up stronger in the second set by holding serve, unfortunately, squandered his first break point in the next and was then Broken by a Nadal forehand winner in the ninth game.
“He starts really well and, of course, it’s Rafa and we know how he plays on clay,” Berdych said.
“It was a good start for him. Yesterday I had one chance that I did take and I won, and today I had one chance that I didn’t take and I lost.”
Paire broke Federer twice in the first set of a tight encounter before losing the tie- break, with the Swiss coming out on top in the second set.