Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals after the three-time defending champion knocked out Tomas Berdych with a straight sets win at the O2 Arena in London. Djokovic needed just one set to reach the last four but made a timely return to form with a 6-3 7-5 victory.
Despite losing his opening two round robin matches, Berdych remained in contention to reach the last four after Roger Federer's win over Kei Nishikori, but in pursuit of the two-set win needed to progress to the knock-out stage he was outclassed by a resolute Djokovic. The line-up for the second semi-final will be determined on Friday [20 November] when Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka square off for the right to face six-time champion Federer.
Berdych's hopes had been reinvigorated by Federer's win over Nishikori, meaning a first straight sets win over Djokovic for five years would assure him a semi-final appearance at the season-ending tour finals for the first time since 2011. The Serbian meanwhile need just one set to progress alongside Federer, however the world number one was keen to bounce back after being trounced by the 17-time grand slam champion in his previous match.
The first part of Djokovic's task was seemingly going according to plan in the early stages as he broke to love to lead 2-0. The Czech produced a desperate repost however, breaking back to level while saving three break points to frustrate the 10-time major champion.
Three further break chances came the way of Djokovic after Berdych failed to challenge a wide forehand, which replays later such clipped the line, and this time the number one seed made no mistake. The 2010 Wimbledon thrashed a volley into the net and Djokovic went on to hold to clinch the opening set and a place in the semi-final, and dumping Berdych out.
With the destiny of both players already decided, the intensity of the contest dropped and though Berdych could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel in his final match of the season he kept Djokovic honest throughout the second set. But in game 11 Djokovic broke his opponent's resolve to grab the break as Berdych went long with a backhand before closing out the match to warm-up for another meeting with Nadal with a return to winning ways.