After another three-set victory, Tomas Berdych decides he can have his cake and eat it, too

After dispatching Sergiy Stakhovsky, Berdych will now face world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Friday’s semi-finals in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, writes Gary Meenaghan.

Tomas Berdych punched his ticket for the semi-finals after disposing of Sergiy Stakhovsky on Thursday in Dubai. Ali Haider / EPA
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DUBAI // The win was prolonged, the cake was late, but the result was as expected.

Tomas Berdych, fresh from claiming his 500th career win on Wednesday, was made to struggle against Sergiy Stakhovsky in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-finals before securing the win that immediately dated the celebratory cheesecake he was presented with on Thursday night.

Written in chocolate, the “Congrats Tomas 500” message was rendered incorrect after Berdych’s 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory, but the world No 8 did not care as he broke the final zero off and slipped it into his mouth.

“It should be 501,” he said, smiling. “But, OK, here’s to the next 500.”

The Czech’s 501st victory could have arrived around 40 minutes earlier, but Stakhovsky raised his serve percentage considerably in the second set and, with games going to serve, broke at 5-4 to force a third set.

“It’s easy to win in two sets, under an hour, but if you have matches like this, it’s much more appreciated,” said Berdych, who took his head-to-head record against the Ukrainian to 4-0. “Whatever it takes, I’m ready for it mentally, physically. These kind of matches are going to count in the end.”

The 2010 Wimbledon finalist had spoken earlier in the week about his need to raise his fitness levels to match the Big Four.

He wasted little time in taking the third set, breaking to love in the fifth game and then benefiting from his opponent double-faulting to gift a second break in the seventh. He closed out the match with a service game to love.

Berdych will now face world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Friday’s semi-finals, and his head-to-head record against the Serb – two wins and 17 losses – does not bode well. He conceded he will be looking more to learn ways of beating Djokovic rather than actually winning.

“I need to try to bring a better game, try to improve, have a plan set up before the match,” he said. “These kind of matches at the beginning of the year are very important. It’s not the case you’re going to beat him every time you go on court, but it’s really good to test yourself, have a good match and try to find things that can be worked on in the future.”

A surprise victory would be the icing on the cake.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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