Rafael Nadal stayed on track for a successful title defence at the Indian Wells ATP tournament with a commanding 6-4, 7-6 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
The left-hander came from 3-1 down in the second-set tiebreak, winning the last three points of the match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to book a place in the last four against big-serving Ivan Ljubicic.
Croat Ljubicic, who turns 31 on Friday, earned himself an early birthday present by powering past Argentina's Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 earlier in the day to reach the semifinals.
Third seed Nadal, twice champion at Indian Wells, broke Berdych twice to take the opening set in just over an hour on a blustery evening at the showpiece stadium court.
After the players traded service breaks in the seventh and eighth games of the second, the set went into a tiebreak, which Nadal clinched when the 19th-seeded Czech netted a backhand.
“I played really well, especially the first set," Nadal said, after beating Berdych for the sixth time in a row.
"The first eight, nine games of the match were at an unbelievable level, later the wind came a little bit and it was more difficult to play.
"I played aggressive with decision and that was the match," added Nadal, who has shaken off the knee injury that forced him to abandon his Australian Open title defence in January.