Federer (1) vs. Berdych (12): Far from flawless in his first two rounds, Federer rediscovered his range during the next two matches and has dropped just 16 games in his last 6 sets. Having fallen to a mighty slugger in his last Slam quarterfinal, Federer will find himself forced to solve the similar, slightly less formidable conundrum posed by his recent Miami nemesis. Surging to his first career Slam semifinal at Roland Garros, Berdych enjoys a reasonable chance to match that accomplishment if Federer reverts to his early-tournament malaise rather than rising to the occasion as he typically does in the second week. The Czech has progressed to this stage only slightly more compellingly than the top seed, for he dropped three sets in his past two matches against the anonymous Denis Istomin and Daniel Brands. Whereas the defending champion’s form has steadily accelerated, therefore, his challenger’s form has dropped a bit. Also in Federer’s favor is the best-of-five format, which allows him the time to rebound from an indifferent start while also providing his opponents greater opportunity to ponder the magnitude of a potential upset. Almost as relevant to this clash as the Miami meeting this year, their 2009 Australian Open encounter witnessed the Swiss star’s stirring comeback from a two-set deficit; after dominating Federer in those first two sets, Berdych sharply declined thereafter as a result of mental insecurities and his inferior fitness. Although the fitness remains an issue, the mental insecurities may no longer hamper Berdych, since his remarkable results in Miami and Paris appear to have silenced his inner demons. (Or are they only temporarily silenced? We might find out.) The early stages of this match will be crucial for the Czech in order for him to implant doubts in the defending champion’s mind, a bit more frail in 2010 than in preceding years. Much more adept at the net than his challenger, Federer should attempt to drag Berdych forward in uncomfortable circumstances while fearlessly venturing into the forecourt himself whenever an opportunity arises. If Berdych can protect his serve and force Federer into tiebreaks, the top seed might well blink. But he must slam the door as soon as possible before the Swiss can catch his balance. Otherwise, the next Slam semifinal streak starts here. Federer, 60-40.