While the Djokovic/Wawrinka semi-final will be packed with exciting tennis, the #6 Andy Murray (pictured) vs #7 Tomas Berdych clash might actually be the more interesting of the two. In fact, with how Berdych has played thus far, it could be a very competitive clash between the two somewhat-rivals (3.30am ET Thursday).
Berdych and Murray first faced off in a ATP tour level tournament in Basel in 2005. The round of 16 match was won by Murray but four of the next five went to Berdych including two Masters 1000’s and a round of 16 match at the French Open in 2010. Following their first six, Murray and Berdych have gone on to split their last four. The pair have only met in a semi once and it was at the 2012 US Open, won by Murray in four sets.
This is not a one-sided rivalry by any means and because of the closeness in talent level, it isn’t surprising to see Berdych and Murray back against each other in a semi. Similar to Wawrinka, who only recently found his best tennis of his career, the 29-year-old Berdych has been playing way above his #7 in the world ranking would suggest. In fact, coming off a three-set victory against Nadal which included bageling (winning a set 6-0) against the Spaniard for the first time in nine years. It was Berdych’s first win in 18 tries against Nadal and was clearly a career-defining moment for the Czech.
But Berdych isn’t the only one playing some of his finest tennis. Murray himself, who is coming off a crisp and comfortable victory over the young Australian native Nick Kyrgios, has dropped just one set and looks much better than he did last year at the same time. Murray’s court movement can be described as with purpose and when at his best, like he is right now, the impact of how well he uses a court becomes that much more daunting for opponents to match.
So even though two of the top four aren’t present for the semifinals for the first time in a long time, two others still are. And even though it would be great for the game of tennis if Berdych met Wawrinka in the finals, it is unlikely to happen. Murray is on right now and like Djokovic, is playing with all of his skills clicking. That’s tough to beat no matter who the opponent is.
Berdych should challenge the Scotsman and cause just his second dropped set in this year’s open, but I don’t see it going beyond that.