Thomas Berdych makes Novak Djokovic suffer on clay once more

 

Rome

Novak Djokovic says the French Open is his biggest target this year but the world No 1 will go to Roland Garros next week having made early exits from his last two build-up tournaments on clay.

Having lost to Grigor Dimitrov in his opening match in Madrid last week, the 25-year-old Serb went out in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters here yesterday when he was beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 by Tomas Berdych. It was only his second defeat in 15 matches against the world No 6.

Djokovic had been at the top of his form for a set and a half, but from 5-2 and 30-15 up in the second set he lost his focus and Berdych quickly took control. As Djokovic’s level dipped, Berdych won five games in a row to take the second set. The Czech made the only break in the decider in the third game, eventually serving out for victory with an ace after two hours and 22 minutes.

“I was playing very well and was two points from winning but after that the match changed completely,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I was a different player from that moment. I lost concentration. I started playing more defensively, played a bad game at 5-3 and the match turned around.

“He gained confidence. He started to step into the court, I made some unforced errors and there you go. At this level you have to use the opportunities when they’re presented to you. I haven’t done that and I lost this match by myself.”

Djokovic needs to win the French Open, which starts a week tomorrow, to complete his set of Grand Slam titles. “I’m positive I’ll continue playing better and better as the days go by,” he said. “I will take some time off now and try to get ready for Paris. It’s the most important event of the year for me.”

In today’s semi-finals Berdych will play the winner of yesterday’s later match between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Roger Federer and Jerzy Janowicz were meeting in last night’s concluding quarter-final, the winner to face France’s Benoît Paire.

Serena Williams won her 22nd match in succession – the longest winning run of her career – when she beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 to earn a semi-final against Romania’s Simona Halep. In the other half of the draw Victoria Azarenka was facing Sam Stosur last night for the right to play Sara Errani, who had a walkover after Maria Sharapova pulled out with illness.

News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot