Tennis: Quarter-final matches top server with best returner

By Ben McKay

Spaniard David Ferrer is a two-time Australian Open semifinalist. Photo / AP
Spaniard David Ferrer is a two-time Australian Open semifinalist. Photo / AP

The Australian Open's most successful server meets the man Roger Federer rates as the best returner in the game for a place in the last four.

It's the unstoppable force against the immovable object when Tomas Berdych plays David Ferrer in today's quarter-final.

Without Nadal, Djokovic or Federer in their quarter, Berdych and Ferrer have ghosted through to the last eight without making waves.

But close observers may have noted that seventh seed Berdych boasts an unmatched serving record those ranked above him would love to have.

The Czech is unbroken through 53 service games and is so dominant with his delivery that he has had to defend only four break points.

Only Rafael Nadal can match his unbroken record, although the top-seeded Spaniard has saved nine break points across 30 games in his three matches so far.

Remarkably, Berdych highlighted his serve as an area to improve after his latest triumph, a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win against South African 19th seed Kevin Anderson.

"I was a bit struggling, especially in the wind from one side was really windy," he said.

"It wouldn't look better on the score, but just for my feeling."

Berdych also leads all comers at the Open in baseline points won (60 per cent) and Hawk-Eye challenges won (eight), adding to his confidence that he can finally break through for a semifinal at the Open after three straight quarter-final defeats.

Knowing he will need to up his game to challenge Ferrer, a ferocious competitor known to chase down lost causes for winners, Berdych was keen to keep his game plan private.

"He will probably find it out very soon. But every single minute that I can keep it secret, it's going to be better," he said.

Ferrer, who leads Berdych 7-4 head-to-head, started slowly against his third-round opponent Florian Mayer but won in four sets to reach his ninth straight Grand Slam quarter-final.

The two-time Australian Open semifinalist called his win over Mayer his best match this year.

"Every day I am playing better. I hope the next match, I have the chance to play similar," he said.

"Tomas is a top-10 player. Always when I play with him, it's very close."

D Ferrer v T Berdych

3-David Ferrer v 7-Tomas Berdych 7-4
2013: World Tour Finals, hard, RR, Berdych 6-4 6-4; 2013: Paris Open, hard, QF, Ferrer 4-6 7-5 6-3; 2012: Davis Cup, hard, R4, Ferrer 6-2 6-3 7-5; 2011: World Tour Finals, hard, RR, Berdych 3-6 7-5 6-1; 2010: Kuala Lumpur, hard, QF, Ferrer 4-6 7-5 6-4; 2007: Paris Open, hard, R16, Ferrer 6-4 6-2; 2007: World Team Cup, clay, R1, Ferrer 6-1 6-3; 2006: Stuttgart, clay, SF, Ferrer 6-3 7-5; 2005: Hamburg, clay, R64, Berdych 6-2 2-6 6-3; 2004: Palermo, clay, SF, Berdych 7-5 6-4; 2004: Gstaad, clay, R32, Ferrer 2-6 6-3 6-4

David Ferrer
Age: 31; Ranking: 3; Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand); Career prize money: US$21,936,102; Career titles: 20; Grand Slam titles: 0; Australian Open win-loss record: 32-11; Best Australian Open performances: semifinalist 2011, 2013

Tomas Berdych
Age: 28; Ranking: 7; Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand); Career prize money: US$16,146,299 (A$18,398,239); Career titles: 8; Grand slam titles: 0; Australian Open win-loss record: 28-10; Best Australian Open performance: quarter-finalist 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

- AAP

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