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Berdych pleased to be back in Halle final

Having lost to world number one Roger Federer in the 2006 final, Tomas Berdych relishes the chance to contest this year's final.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2007 18:25 IST

Tomas Berdych, last year's finalist at the ATP tournament in Halle, admitted he was pleased to have a second chance to win the title after Saturday's semi-final win over Jarkko Nieminen.

The Czech served up seven aces to Nieminen's four and needed just one hour and 24 minutes to see off this Finnish opponent, ranked nine places below him in the ATP rankings.

Having lost to world number one Roger Federer in the 2006 final, Berdych was relishing the chance to contest Sunday's final and says he is hoping to go one step further.

"Of course I am very pleased to reach the final," he said, "It was a bit of a surprise to reach the final last year, this year I was hoping to do the same, I just hope I can do one step further."

After Federer withdrew on Monday morning, citing fatigue and a groin strain, Berdych admitted the absence of the grass court king - who has an incredible 48 consecutive wins on the natural surface - has given everyone else a chance.

"It has been a big chance for everyone else with Roger missing," said Berdych. "He has won here four times and he is so hard to beat, now it's an advantage for the rest of us.

"I was supposed to meet him in the semi-finals, but his withdrawal has given me an easier time."

Having been handed a walk-over in the quarter-finals after Russian sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny withdrew with a back injury, Berdych had few problems beating Nieminen.

The 21-year-old Czech took the first set on a tie-break 7-6 (7/5), but there was little to choose between Berdych and Nieminen, who battled back and refused to go down without a fight.

Both players served four aces in the first set, but Nieminen, who had an easy time in Friday's quarter-final after his opponent Marc Gicquel was forced out by injury, fought back and broke the Czech early to take a 4-2 lead.

But Berdych, ranked 13th in the world, pulled back things back to 4-4 and then blitzed Nieminen to take a 5-4 lead before breaking his opponent to win the match.

In the other semi-final, Marcos Baghdatis hopes to have a double reason to celebrate his birthday on Sunday if he can over-come German number two Philipp Kohlschreiber in Saturday's other semi-final.

"It would be a great birthday present," said Baghdatis if he can pick up the 96,000-euro winner's cheque.

But Berdych will be hoping Kohlschreiber makes the final - he has never lost to the German number two in four meetings, while Baghdatis beat him in straight sets on hard court last year in their only meeting.

First Published: Jun 16, 2007 17:54 IST