MELBOURNE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Big-serving Czech Tomas Berdych fended off a belated challenge from baseline hustler David Ferrer to reach his maiden Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday with a 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory.
The seventh-seed Berdych cruised to a two-set lead over a surprisingly listless Ferrer but spontaneously collapsed in the third set under pressure from the dogged Spaniard.
Ferrer appeared primed to drag the match into an epic struggle but lost focus at 2-2 in the fourth set to surrender serve with a string of unforced errors.
Berdych grimly held onto the advantage, surviving a breakpoint when serving for the match, to seal a semi-final with either triple defending champion Novak Djokovic or eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston