Czech slugger Tomas Berdych came from way behind to upset two-time champion Novak Djokovic and reach the semifinals at the $3.475 million Italian Masters tennis event.
The sixth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych eventually outmuscled the world No. 1 Djokovic for a stunning 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 decision in 2 hours, 22 minutes on the red clay at Foro Italico. Berdych overcame a 6-2, 5-2 deficit to advance and beat Djokovic for the first time in three years to snap an 11- match losing streak against the high-flying Serb.
Berdych was dominated by Djokovic for the first half of their 15th meeting and did not create his first break-point chance until the Serb was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set. Having trailed 2-5, Berdych reeled off five straight games to level the match. He then broke Djokovic in the third game of the third set to put himself on the path to victory. He surrendered a 40-love lead when serving for the match, but converted his fourth match point to claim his 29th match win of the season.
"I lost concentration and started to play more defensively," lamented Djokovic. "[I played] a bad game at 5-3 and I made some unforced errors. At this level you have to take advantage of the opportunities and I lost this game by myself."
Berdych is now 2-13 lifetime against the mighty Djokovic.
Djokovic was the Rome titlist in 2008 and 2011 and lost to Rafael Nadal in last year's final, after topping Nadal in the final here in '11. The Serbian star had played in the Rome final in four of the last five years.
The Australian Open champion Djokovic was a second-round loser against promising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov at last week's Madrid Masters.
The 6-foot-5 Berdych will appear in his third Masters semifinal of the year at this French Open tune-up.
Another Friday quarterfinal result saw talented Frenchman Benoit Paire maul helpless Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-0, as Paire secured his first-ever semifinal berth in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event.
This week's big winner will earn $650,000.