By Ros Satar
Tomas Berdych def Andy Murray 7-6(3), 6-4
Tomas Berdych demonstrated why he led Andy Murray on their clay head-to-heads as he just seemed the sharper of the two, advancing to the semi-final in straight sets.
Murray started with more purpose than he had done in the quarter-final, taking Berdych to a break point in the first game, before things continued for both players comfortably on serve.
Having failed to convert that break point in the first game, Murray made no mistake when he got another chance, to lead Berdych 4-3 after some closely contested games.
But he failed to capitalise as Berdych fought back to break back.
In the next game, four break back points came and went for Murray, and Berdych scrambled a hold to edge back ahead on serve again.
Murray therefore found himself serving to stay in the set at 4-5, and did so emphatically with a hold to love.
Berdych had to work hard again on his own serve to hold, but managed it, making Murray serve to stay in the set for a second time.
Once Berdych got the first mini-break in the tie-break on the first of Murray’s serves, he continued to dominate, leaving Murray to try and come back from a set down for the second night running.
The momentum seemed to continue with Berdych as he broke Murray in the first game of the second set, only to be broken straight back and for Murray to then hold to keep put things back on serve.
Berdych broke Murray again to take the lead 3-1 as Murray looked as though the late finish to the quarter-final was beginning to take its toll.
Once again, the British no. 1 found himself having to serve to stay in the set, at 3-5, and for a moment seemed to regain some rhythm on his first serve.
Berdych found himself with two match points, and booked a place in the semi-finals as Murray sent a forehand wide.
Whilst it was a better performance by Murray, the effects of the long match the night before seemed to be a factor, but it was by far an improvement on his first appearance in Monte Carlo.
His passing shots off both the backhand and forehand burned Berdych on several occasions, but just lacked that sharpness of positioning at the crucial moments.
Murray will now head to Rome before final preparations for the French Open at the end of the month.