By Steve Gorten
KEY BISCAYNE – Still soaked in victory, a sweaty but satisfied Tomas Berdych was asked after his triumph late Wednesday night whether his return to the men’s semifinals of the Miami Open was special to him because of what happened last year.
“I just don’t even want to think about it – what happened last year,” Berdych said.
The No. 7 seed here last year, exited the tournament with a walkover loss to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. He withdrew prior to the match because of gastroenteritis, telling reporters he woke up that morning with pain in his stomach and suffered from diarrhea and vomiting. He said he lost enough fluids that even an IV didn’t replenish his energy.
Wednesday, the 29-year-old Czech earned himself another stab in the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Juan Monaco of Argentina on stadium court.
The eighth-seeded Berdych will face third-seeded Andy Murray in the semis.
“Extremely tough one today,” Berdych said of his match against Monaco. “He was playing really well. I haven’t seen him play this good for a while. But I still managed to find situations to create opportunities and I executed them. I’m really pleased with that.”
“There were a couple of long, tough rallies. The conditions were not easy. So there were a couple of challenges I needed to face, but I managed them all and went through.”
After Berdych and the unseeded Monaco exchanged service breaks in the first set, Berdych broke Monaco’s serve again for a 5-3 lead and then served out the first set at love to take control.
Berdych, who improved to 7-0 head-to-head with Monaco, reached his 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal. He got here by beating Hyeon Chung in straight sets, rallying to edge No. 25 seed Bernard Tomic in three sets, and winning his fourth-round match against Gael Monfils when Monfils withdrew with a hip injury down a set and 3-2 in the second.
“It definitely hasn’t been one of the smoothest tournaments so far for me, but that’s the beauty of the sport,” said Berdych, the world’s ninth ranked player. “We don’t play for marks and points with somebody judging us. We play for a score. And so far I’m been able to win all my matches.
“Definitely the key one was the match with Tomic that I managed to turn around and win in three sets. That’s how it is. One day you’re really down and you have to fight back. The other day you’re a bit lucky like the match with Monfils. …I need to raise my game, try to bring something more, something better, and find a way [to win] playing Andy in the next match.”
Murray beat Berdych in four sets at the Australian Open earlier this year.
“What’s positive for me is that I he played a very good tournament, and I managed to find a way to win a set,” Berdych said of their most recent meeting. “It’s definitely going to be my goal to stick to the game-plan and execute it.”
Berdych is seventh in the Open Era with 508 career wins while Murray is ninth with 500. Berdych lost the 2010 final to Andy Roddick and was a semifinalist in 2008, and of course, last year.
“I’m just going to keep doing the same thing that I’ve been doing here for the last 10 days and try to follow-up on that, not really thinking what happened last year,” Berdych said. “Just do my routines, try to be ready and just go for it.”