Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal will take on World No. 7 Tomas Berdych for a place in the semifinals of the 2012 Australian Open. It has been a fairly manageable draw for both players, but the real challenge begins now.

A year ago Nadal was the ruling figure on the Men’s tour. He had, after all, just completed one of the better seasons in recent history. However, his health prevented him from advancing past the quarterfinal stage of the 2011 Australian Open, where he lost to David Ferrer. Though Nadal managed to win three titles after that, including French Open title, 2011 would be considered an off year.

2011 would instead be remembered for the surge of Novak Djokovic. Djokovic beat Nadal in six finals in 2011 and sent Nadal back to Spain to re-evaluate his game, in an effort to beat Djokovic.

On the other side of the net will be Czech Tomas Berdych. He has won six ATP World Tour titles in his career. He achieved a career high ranking of World No. 6 in 2010. Berdych comes into the quarterfinal after a bit of controversy stemming from his 4th round match against Nicolas Almagro. Berdych refused to shake hands at the net, following their match. This was in response to what he felt was an unnecessary attempt to hit Berdych with the ball, while at net. I fully expect the crowd to not only place their loyalties with Nadal, but also make sure Berdych hears them doing so.

In head-to-head, Nadal  leads  10-3. However, this match could be tighter then many expect. I expect Nadal to come through in 4 sets, but I also wouldn’t be surprised with an upset. Had Berdych not acted so foolishly in the previous round, I would have picked him to win.

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