MADRID: Rafael Nadal reached his seventh final at the Madrid Open by defeating Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 6-1 on Saturday.
Yet to drop a set this week, Nadal will face either 2008 champion Andy Murray or last year's finalist, Kei Nishikori, in the final on Sunday.
Nadal has won the last two Madrid Opens, and will attempt to win his fifth overall.
He found the lines against Berdych, who beat him in the Australian Open quarterfinals, down both lanes with unerring accuracy, and forced Berdych to cover a lot of ground.
Nadal thanked the cheering fans, saying, "You don't know what this means to me."
He said when he arrived in Madrid he hadn't been sure he would be able to advance past the first round, but that Saturday's match was the best he'd played all year.
"I'm very happy. This week was vital for me, and being in the final is a superb bit of news for me," Nadal said.
He ended a nine-month title drought with victory in February in Buenos Aires, and came to Madrid having lost to Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlos semifinals, and Fabio Fognini in the Barcelona third round. Three losses on clay this year were his most in a single season in 12 years.
"At this level, all rivals are complicated, even when you come up against them with a positive attitude, but when you arrive after an irregular phase, they become even tougher," he said.
"One has to work hard to change that mindset, and develop a more positive outlook. Winning helps change that, and I'm doing all I can to do that."