Rotterdam, Netherlands – Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina advanced to the title match at the ABN AMRO World tournament after a thorough beating of Tomas Berdych in the first of Saturday's semifinals.
The third-seeded del Potro needed just 75 minutes in a 6-3, 6-1 rout. He has dropped just five games in his last two matches and will face the winner between Swiss superstar Roger Federer and Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko in Sunday's final.
Berdych had lost just once this season entering Saturday's match. After a quarterfinal setback to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, he won the title in Montpellier two weeks ago and last week won his lone match in the Czech Republic's victory over Italy in the Davis Cup.
Seeded second this week, Berdych had also steamrolled through his first three opponents without dropping a set. It all changed on Saturday.
Del Potro opened the match with a break of serve and didn't face a break point during the first set. Berdych, meanwhile, struggled with his serve, connecting on just 52 percent in the first set. He was called for a foot fault for a double fault to set up del Potro's clinching break point to finish off the opening set.
Again, del Potro picked up an early break in the second set for a 2-0 edge. But Berdych won three of the first four points in the next game to gain two break points. He squandered both and del Potro's ace closed out the game for a 3-0 lead.
Berdych appeared deflated afterward, again dropping his serve. He went down 0-5 before finally winning a game, but del Potro quickly wrapped it up and improved to 3-1 lifetime against Berdych.
Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champ, will be gunning for his 10th career title on Sunday. He is 9-4 all-time in finals, including 2-1 last year when he made a successful comeback from a wrist injury that sidelined him for most of the 2010 campaign.
Federer won the Rotterdam title the last time he appeared in the tournament, back in 2005. He beat Davydenko in the quarterfinals that year and owns a 16-2 lifetime mark against the Russian, including a win earlier this year in Doha.
The 2012 Rotterdam winner will collect $385,000.