Nadal out slugs Raonic to reach Miami semis
MIAMI - World number one Rafa Nadal took another step towards a first Miami title by out-slugging big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic 4-6 6-2 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Sony Open.
Nadal, a three-time runner-up on the Miami hardcourts, will play seventh seed Tomas Berdych for a place in Sunday`s final after the Czech eased into the last four with 6-4 7-6 (3) win over Ukraine`s Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The other semi-final will see world number two Novak Djokovic take on Japan`s Kei Nishikori, who has already beaten fourth seed David Ferrer and 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer.
Nadal`s resume includes 62 career titles, including two this year but the Miami trophy has consistently eluded the 13-time grand slam winner.
The Spaniard, however, has been in brilliant form in Miami appearing determined to correct that oversight.
Raonic`s booming serve, that included a couple at 140-mph plus, kept Nadal on his heels in the opening set but it was the world number one`s own serve that let him down when he double faulted on break point at 5-4 down to gift the 12th seeded Canadian the set.
It marked the first time Nadal`s serve had been broken in Miami and the unhappy Spaniard struck back by breaking Raonic twice to surge to a 4-0 lead in the second on the way to leveling the match.
He then gained the upper hand in the third set with a decisive break at 4-3 then held serve to complete the victory.
Earlier, Berdych quietly worked his way into the last four without dropping a set.
The match was briefly halted by rain with the score tied 4-4 in the opening set, but when the players returned to an overcast centre court Berdych took control, holding serve and breaking the 22nd seed to grab the 1-0 lead.
Dolgopolov hit back with an early break in the second on way to a 5-3 lead but Berdych broke the Ukrainian at 5-5 to help force a tiebreak which he easily won to register his 450th career match win.
"I was a break down since the beginning of the first set. Then break down in the second set, so it didn`t look that well," said Berdych.
"But I managed, especially end of the second set, I hold pretty well and that`s what I`m very pleased with."