Rafael Nadal’s 11-month title drought has continued as American Andy Roddick beat the Spaniard 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Miami Masters final.
Sixth seed Roddick will face Tomas Berdych in the final after the Czech swept past Swede Robin Soderling 6-2, 6-2.
Berdych is looking for his second Masters 1000 title after his win in Paris in 2005 and while Berdych beat Roger Federer in the fourth round, Roddick will be in confident mood after producing a fine comeback in front of a packed stadium at Key Biscayne.
After being pushed around in the first set by Nadal, who will still return to number three in the world from his current number four on Monday, Roddick realised he would have to do more.
“I took a lot of risks there in the last two sets,” Roddick said.
“That’s what I have to do. My comfort zone of moving the ball around and maybe chip, ping it around a little bit doesn’t work against Rafa.
“I had to try to come up with something that at least took him out of his comfort zone a little bit, and it paid off.”
Roddick, who finished with 15 aces, began moving to the net with more aggression – a tactic that Nadal admitted caught him by surprise.
“I started the match playing pretty well,” Nadal said.
“I had the match under control in the first set with my serve.
“In the second set Andy was serving well, I didn’t have a lot of chances on the return.
“He plays a very aggressive game and started to play more aggressive in the game where he got the break.
“It was a change, and it was surprise for me,” Nadal admitted.
“After that, in the third, he put more pressure on my serve, attacking more. He’s playing really well.”
Nadal had earned the break he needed in the opening set in the third game, saved a break point himself in the next then dominated Roddick in the rallies to pocket the set.
But Roddick would not be broken again. He piled the pressure on and turned the tide late in the second set, breaking Nadal to love to lead 5-3 then serving out with a love game capped by a 143 mph service winner.
In the third, Nadal could make no headway against Roddick’s serve. He could not convert his one chance to break in the second game, so that Roddick’s break in the next game proved key.
Nadal was clearly frustrated in the eighth game, when he managed to push Roddick to deuce on his serve.
But he netted a backhand to let the American off the hook, and dropped his serve to end the match.
“But the way I rationalised it was, I’m trying to get the upper hand in a rally,” Roddick said.
“It’s very tough once we get neutral. I don’t hit the ball like him. I hit the ball straight through, and his ball comes up and down and he can switch directions a little bit easier than I can.
“So basically I was sitting here thinking ‘all right, is my second serve my best approach shot against him?’ I thought it was.”
Roddick, the sixth seed who is back in the final for the first time since he won the title in 2004, awaits the winner of the second semi-final between Czech Tomas Berdych and fifth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden.
Nadal, meanwhile, remained in search of his first title since a triumph in Rome last May as he followed top three Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to the Miami sidelines.