Nadal beats Berdych, joins Djokovic in semis
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic completed the semifinal lineup at the ATP World Tour Finals with straight-set victories Friday.
Nadal beat Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 6-1 in an early match marked by a rare outburst from the top-ranked Spaniard. That left Djokovic needing only one set to finish second in Group A and the third-seeded Serb defeated a listless Andy Roddick 6-2, 6-3.
Nadal will meet Andy Murray in Saturday's first semifinal as he bids for his first title at the season-ending ttournament. Djokovic plays Roger Federer.
Roddick began his match against Djokovic with an outside chance of reaching the semifinals but the eighth-ranked American was never in contention and was broken three times in a 65-minute loss.
Nadal finished Group A with a 3-0 record and appears finally comfortable on the surface at O2 Arena, having lost all three matches on the same court last year.
''(To) finish the season winning all the matches in the group, three victories against top-eight players in probably the most difficult surface for me, is unbelievable now,'' Nadal said after beating Berdych for the eighth straight time. ''I'm very happy how I am playing, how I improved during the tournament.''
It wasn't all clear sailing for Nadal, who lost his cool momentarily and argued in the first set.
With Nadal trailing 6-5, Berdych's backhand was called out, but Nadal had returned the ball in play. Berdych challenged the call, which confirmed the ball was actually in. The Czech player was then awarded the point.
Nadal was convinced the point should have been replayed. He ranted first at umpire Carlos Bernardes and then at the tournament supervisor sitting in the front row of the crowd, to no avail.
''There is no argument,'' Nadal said. ''I am right, but it's (a) mistake for him. But he is a great umpire and everybody (makes) a mistake.''
Berdych said he thought Nadal had stopped playing to indicate the ball was out, and that the umpire was correct to give him the point.
''The referee is probably scared of him and just let him to talk with him too long,'' Berdych said. ''He was able to play. But every time when you just raise your hand, that means that you stop the play.''
The display only seemed to fire up Nadal. He reluctantly returned to the baseline to serve at 15-30, and when a fierce forehand drew an error from Berdych, he pumped his fist and yelled his approval.
''Doesn't change nothing, that point,'' Nadal said. ''I think I still playing the same level before that point and after that point.''
After dominating the tiebreaker, Nadal raced through the second set. Serving for the win at 5-1, he even had the confidence to try a through-the-legs winner, and although that dropped just wide, he still finished with 27 winners to Berdych's 18.
Roddick, who qualified for the eight-man tournament for the eight straight year, leaves London with an 0-3 record after a surprisingly lackluster match Friday.
The American had won his last four matches against Djokovic and engineered a break point in the opening game, only to put a backhand into the net.
Roddick failed to threaten again. A forehand into the net handed Djokovic his first break of the set at 2-1, and Roddick went on to rack up 22 unforced errors as his season ended with a whimper.
In doubles, Lukasz Kubot and Olivier Marach beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic for their first win in the group. The Polish-Austrian pair, however, was already eliminated while No. 2-ranked Nestor and Zimonjic were already through to the semifinals.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi claimed the second semifinal spot from Group B when they beat Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman 6-4, 6-4.