Nadal struggled against the sixth-ranked Berdych's serve at the start before breaking for a 5-4 lead with a forehand into the corner. He clinched the set with another forehand winner.
Nadal, the defending champion from Spain, jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second, breaking Berdych twice before the 25-year-old Czech took the next two games to make it 4-3. But Berdych's comeback fell short and Nadal closed out the match with a forehand that the Czech returned into the net.
"It was a very good match as the first of the year and against a very good opponent like Tomas," Nadal said.
Czech Tomas Berdych returns the ball to world number one Spanish Rafael Nadal during their
Mubadala World Tennis Championship semi-final match in Abu Dhabi on December 31, 2010.
What Tomas said after their match:
Berdych admits he had his opportunities but could not make them count.
He said: “In the first set I had a few chances but he served perfectly and took it away. I had a couple of chances later on but then the game he played was incredible."
“I was playing well but he was great and that’s why he is No1."