Berdych stuns Djokovic at Rome Masters

Rome, May 17 (EFE).- Czech Tomas Berdych pulled off a shocking comeback Friday against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters, turning what seemed a certain lopsided loss into a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 win.

Djokovic, who cruised through his first two matches of the tournament and led Berdych 6-2, 5-2, saw the momentum of the match change in an instant against his big-hitting opponent.

The Serbian broke Berdych's serve in the fourth game of the match en route to an easy first set victory.

The second set seemed like it would be just as routine, but Berdych found the range on his powerful ground strokes to win the final five games and force a decider.

Berdych continued to dictate the rallies in the third set and was rewarded for his aggressiveness with an early service break, although Djokovic stayed within striking distance the rest of the way.

The Czech's nerves were tested when he blew a 40-0 lead in the final game, but one big serve gave him a fourth match point and another clinched the match for him in two hours and 21 minutes.

It was a fitting ending because Berdych's serve was the key factor in his victory, as he struck nine aces and won 79 percent of his first-serve points.

The win was only the Czech's second in 15 matches against Djokovic, the other coming in the semifinals of the 2010 Wimbledon.

In another men's quarterfinal match Friday afternoon, France's Benoit Paire pummeled Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-0.

In the women's draw, American world No. 1 Serena Williams continued to romp through the draw, crushing Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 in Friday's quarterfinals.

She will next play Romanian Simona Halep, who rallied for a 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 victory over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic.

Russian world No. 2 Maria Sharapova, meanwhile, withdrew prior to her quarterfinal match against Italy's Sara Errani due to illness.

The Rome event is one of the biggest clay-court tournaments on the ATP and WTA calendars and a key tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway on May 26.