Berdych, ranked No 6 in the world, subdued Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 yesterday to set up the last-four clash with the world No 1.
Berdych bounces out Baghdatis to set up Nadal showdown
ABU DHABI // Tomas Berdych will be looking for the ideal start to the season when he meets Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Challenge at the Zayed Sports City Tennis Complex.
Berdych, ranked No 6 in the world, subdued Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 yesterday to set up the last-four clash with the world No 1, who has an impressive 9-3 head-to-head advantage on the ATP Tour.
Nadal has won eight matches in a row against Berdych, but the Czech is hoping he can find some inspiration to change that trend in Abu Dhabi today.
"This is the perfect start to the year," Berdych said.
"I played the first match against Marcos, who is ranked 20 in the world. It was a really close match and a good start to the season.
"In the second match, it's the No 1 player in the world.
"I am looking forward to playing Nadal again. I will try my best. He is the best player in the world right now and I just need to try and find a pretty good game from me, try to play a great game and try to beat him. It is always great to play these guys [Nadal and Roger Federer] and I always enjoy it.
"It's a little bit different, playing against these two. Still, it doesn't change anything. I will go on the court, try to play my best, try to enjoy myself, but of course, I will try to win as well."
Baghdatis was playing his first match in two months following time out due to a shoulder injury.
"I couldn't finish the year on a high but it's not easy playing a top-eight player in the first match," the Cypriot said.
"You could see that I was feeling good, but I need some matches, which I didn't have. But I am pretty happy from the way I am playing.
"I am playing good tennis and I feel I moved well on the court.
"Of course, there are some things I need to work on."
Berdych got off to a strong start over the error-prone Baghdatis, moving out to a 3-1 lead on his way to winning the first set.
However, Baghdatis, showed flashes of his past form to fight back in the second, using several well-timed aces to level the match.
Berdych appeared to be coasting in the third, breaking Baghdatis in the sixth game on his way to a 5-2 lead.
But Baghdatis again recovered, tying the match at 5-5 before Berdych took the final two games to win.
* With agency