Murray beats Berdych to reach Madrid Open semifinals

Defending champion Andy Murray marched into the final of the Madrid Open after defeating home favourite Rafa Nadal for the second successive year.

But British number one Murray was back to winning ways, beating the nine-time French Open champion 7-5 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes.

"I have no doubt about that, first of all because I believe in the anti-doping program and secondly because I believe in people until they show you otherwise".

The 31-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 74 in the world, picked up his first title of the year and 20th of the career in Shenzhen, China in late March, but came up short on Saturday against a player ranked 177 places below him. "I didn't play my best level, but I didn't play badly".

"I think I used my forehand pretty good throughout the match, I was able to push him back towards the baseline".

"I spoke to a number of coaches who work with younger players to develop technique, just to understand different grips, different positions to stand on the court as well, the ideal spot to make contact with the serve", Murray said. Murray saved 11 break points to win a rematch of last year's final. "Let's try to continue this way or maybe try to put up the rhythm a little bit more".

"I think I played a medium level, which was not enough to beat Murray today".

Nadal in recent weeks has been a much improved player, however, even if not quite as unstoppable as he was at his peak.

After ripping through the field this week - albeit a good draw - Djokovic was again in full cruise control until incredibly blowing four match points in that ninth game of the second set, his first loss of service of the event.

Djokovic served out the opener and, with his tail up, had two break points in game one of set two, only for Nishikori to fight back for a big hold.

Djokovic broke Nishikori's serve once in each set and hit 22 winners to secure his tour-leading 32nd win of the year on his fifth match point. "A few points in the first set and also second set", Nishikori told atpworldtour.com.

Nadal's positivity and comfort on court was in stark contrast to a year ago, which began with a lack of confidence.

"That serve was consistently a lot bigger than Novak's out there today in terms of its speed, but the second serve was far less attackable, it's got a lot more bite on it, it's kicking up more and it's coming through the court as well".

Romania's Simona Halep sealed her first title in 14 months with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Dominika Cibulkova to claim the Madrid Open on Saturday. "It's a question of playing my best, and if I am playing my best I hope to have my chances".

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