ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Top-Ranked Rafael Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4 Friday and will face Roger Federer in the final of the World Tennis Championships.
Federer rallied to defeat Robin Soderling 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal.
Nadal, who won the tournament last year, struggled against the sixth-ranked Berdych's serve at the start before taking charge in the ninth game. He hit a forehand into the corner to break Berdych and go up 5-4. He won the set with another forehand into the corner.
Nadal cruised to a 4-1 lead in the second, breaking Berdych twice before the Czech won the next two games. But Berdych's comeback fell short and Nadal closed out the match with a forehand that the Czech returned into the net.
Federer lost to the fifth-ranked Soderling in the exhibition last year.
"I never got broken," Federer said. "I came back and got through a tough second set, and third set, I felt I was playing better."
The Swiss star struggled with his serve in the first set and had to save several break points. Federer made several unforced errors in the tiebreaker, handing Soderling the lead when he hit a forehand long on set point.
But the second-ranked Federer took control in the second set, hitting several of his 16 aces to take a 5-3 lead. Soderling double-faulted to give Federer a set point and the Swede sent a shot that bounced on the net cord and out to even the match.
Using his powerful forehand and dominant service game, Federer went up 4-3 in the third and 5-3 when Soderling missed an easy forehand. He closed out the match with an ace.