June 30, 2010
After his shocking four set defeat to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon on Thursday, top seed Roger Federer will find himself in unfamiliar territory when Monday’s rankings are released.
Losing his championship points from last year, Federer will drop to No. 3 on the computer for the first time since November 10, 2003.
Failing to win a tournament since capturing his 16th Grand Slam event in Australian to begin the season, Federer said that he will “take the next two week’s off,” before resuming his training.
The Swiss star is next slated to see action at the Toronto Masters 1000 event in Canada.
June 30, 2010
The departure of six-time champ Roger Federer from The Wimbledon Championships today could in fact be a telling tale for the remainder of the Swiss’ career.
Not only did the former world No. 1 lose before the finals of the event for the first time since 2002—he will also lose even more ground in the rankings race on Monday when he slips down to world No. 3.
Lacking in the MPH department off of his groundstrokes, Federer never recovered after losing his serve in the seventh game of the first set. Although the top seed managed to scrape through and take the second set, his attempt at tying Pete Sampras’ seven Wimbledon titles will have to wait until next year.
What was perhaps the most astonishing part of Federer’s loss to Tomas Berdych was the low scoring of each set. Considering that both players hold stellar deliveries (especially Federer), it became perplexing to not see a 7-5 or 7-6 scoreline.
Acting a tad miffed during his post match presser, Federer quickly made sure that the assembled media was aware of why he was defeated.
“Well, when you’re hurting (Federer was struggling with a back and thigh issue), it’s just a combination of many things. You know, you just don’t feel as comfortable. You can’t concentrate on each and every point because you do feel the pain sometimes. And, uhm, yeah, then you tend to play differently than the way you want to play,” commented Federer.
“Under the circumstances I think I played a decent match, you know. But I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now. It’s just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions, you know.”
I’m really not sure that Federer could blame his poor back, or thigh injury for his loss. Berdych simply played in his comfort zone for a majority of the contest, while Federer’s game was not up to the challenge. There is no doubt that Berdych played a whale of a match in prevailing. Striking 12 aces in total, Berdych’s ace count was overshadowed by the placement of his serve. Keeping Federer from throwing his momentum into his returns, Berdych only lost his serve on one of four occasions.
Losing serve four times, Federer’s shot at victory was halted by his inability to consolidate any sort of a lead. If anything, it appeared that Federer’s footwork and proficiency around the court was a shell of what we’ve seen in the past.
I suppose Federer’s early round struggles throughout the event were a precursor to his defeat against Berdych. Surviving a first-round dogfight, Federer was pushed to a four-set victory in his second match. Although the Swiss pulled it together quite nicely in the third and fourth-rounds, his level of play was never at its historic best.
Will the Swiss’ success for the remainder of the season be affected by an early loss at his most cherished tournament? I wouldn’t be surprised if a repeat of the latter stages of his ‘08 campaign weren’t coming right up.
Losing to Berdych in Miami during the spring, Federer admitted that the Czech’s form had become more consistent over the past 12 months.
“I think he’s been able to play more consistent last year or so, and I was just not able to defend well enough and I didn’t come up with the good stuff when I had to,” Federer.
Part of Federer’s on-court frustration was in fact related to Berdych’s new found consistency. In a day and age where the world of pro tennis hosts its share of ball-bashing specialists, Berdych by no means is exempt from that group. However, to the Czech’s credit, he’s finally figured out how to obtain the best of both worlds between power and consistency—enjoy the moment, and let the ball rip.
“Yeah, I think, you know, it’s many things. First of all, it’s that you win a couple of matches in the beginning of the year, and then you get a confidence. It keeps going and going,” said Berdych.
“I mean, it’s not only like about last two weeks. It’s already start I would say maybe, I don’t know, in the United States, Indian Wells, Miami. So it’s quite far ago.
“You know, it’s many things. You get more and more experience. I get, you know, a little bit older to be, you know, more focused, you know, mentally stronger than before. That’s what you need.
“But it’s many things together, so I’m very happy that it works. They are all together like in one pack. It works pretty well.”
“All together in one pack” apparently is simply all that Berdych needs.
Already reaching the final four at Roland Garros, Berdych will now have an opportunity to continue his stellar year against his next opponent Novak Djokovic.
Berdych will once again play the role of the underdog against Djokovic, but one would certainly favor his chances at this point.
The dawn of a new day has finally settled over the hollowed grounds of Wimbledon. It took eight years to make it happen, but something tells me that there’s a little more magic left to be discovered before the end of Sunday’s final.
June 28, 2010
The powerful duo of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon on Monday with respective fourth-round victories.
Battling countryman Julien Benneteau on Court 12, Tsonga prevailed in four entertaining sets 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Displaying his deft net game for the engaged outer court crowd, Tsonga gained revenge over Benneteau for a loss he sustained in Marseille earlier this year.
Never reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, Tsonga will next face the winner of Andy Murray or Sam Querrey.
Berdych, who made the semifinals of the French Open last month, survived a serving duel against German Daniel Brands 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5, 6-3.
Reaching the finals of the Miami event in March, Berdych will next face top seed Roger Federer.
Federer won a clean cut straight set affair over Jurgen Melzer earlier on Center Court.
June 4, 2010
Q. When do you think the match turned? In the beginning of the fourth, or…
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I don’t know if well, I can find, well, like a moment when it turned to the other side. But I think actually the very important moment was in the first set when I lost my serve.
Yeah, I think that game was not good from my side, you know. I made really two easy mistakes, lost easy my serve, you know, and I think that that was very important.
Because then I could stay with him and then had a couple of chances to make a break, you know, finish the first set on my side, and then all the match could be different.
Q. Were you a little bit nervous in the first set when you were getting on the court?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, just I was really trying to enjoy it, because, you know, all the nervous or nerves, whatever, you know.
It’s the reason of, you know, the nice results to be the in the semifinals and enjoying the time to go on court. That’s the payout for the result.
Q. You hit very hard. Does he hit harder than you?
TOMAS BERDYCH: I don’t know. I didn’t see the game from, you know, from the stands. Then you can judge it from there. So it’s maybe gonna be question for all of you who just saw it from the stands.
And, yeah, he play well, he play his game he play aggressive, and serving well.
That’s what he did. Just won.
Q. He seemed to get a little nervous in the second and third set and you played better. I guess it was disappointing that you couldn’t carry that. You seemed to be on top of him for quite a while there. Must be disappointed you weren’t able to keep that going.
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, of course you are disappointed when you are from the court and you are not the winner.
Well, I don’t see it as a big, you know, big reason of the match or big point in the match, because, you know, just the match is really long. You know, you get a little bit nervous, yeah, but that’s how it is, you know.
Yeah, I mean, maybe I should yeah, as I said, you know, I shouldn’t leave my serve in the first set and could be different.
Q. You played Robin now eight times. Last time in Miami you beat him pretty easily. What do you think is so good about his game now? Or do you think it’s that good? I mean, he beat you now 3 2, but what in Robin’s game has improved most?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I know that you want to heard something different, but I will say that only we play on the hardcourt and here is the clay. So that was the difference.
Q. What memories will you keep from this French Open? Is there any special moment that you will remember for a long time?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean well, I hope it’s not gonna be for that long time, because I hope to do some other and good hopefully better results somewhere. Maybe here again, but whatever, you know.
But so far it was a great two weeks for me, and, well, it’s gonna be every match, you know. Every round I won here, it’s a great moment. Every time you win the match then you really enjoy it. You are happy. So it was the best moments for me so far.
You know, every time, even if you win like five, six matches and then you’re not gonna leave from the tournament as a winner, then the last one gives you really, you know, like kind of big hit that you still have something left on the place.
You have to go back home, you know, practice hard again, and prepare for the next one.
Q. Sometimes guys you beat come in here, and we ask them about what it’s like playing you. They can get quite poetic describing how you hit the ball and the power you have. Tell us a little bit about Robin’s game and the kind of ball he hits.
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, I think it’s gonna be the same. I’m gonna be in the side of those guys who’s gonna play against me, you know. He’s yeah, I’m gonna repeat the same. He’s playing really aggressive, you know. That’s the style what he likes, serving quick serves.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what you can see from him on the court.
Q. Is it a heavier ball than some other guys hit, or is his serve significantly tougher?
TOMAS BERDYCH: I don’t know. Maybe he’s doing it well, he’s doing it a little bit better than the others, you know. He’s in the finals. Yeah, he’s doing quite well.
That’s his style what he likes to play. That’s what he’s doing on the court. He’s winning.
Q. What do you think about Robin’s chances in the final?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, well, you know, we still waiting for his opponent for the final. If he’s gonna play against Rafa, you know, he’s the only one who beat him here, so I think he’s got really big chance.
Q. Two things: Did your legs get a little tired in the fifth set? Did you lose a little conditioning? Secondly, in a different way, talk some more about what you think specifically you can take from this tremendous run you had here for your game and what you’ll try and learn from this.
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, so the first thing is, yeah, it could be a little bit. You know, it was a little bit for my serve, you know. I lost a little bit the just a little bit of power for my first serve. Then like the movement and rhythm was not that optimal as the beginning of the match.
This is the reason that we play on clay, you know. Because for me, it’s really hard and just taking so much energy, you know, for me to play on this slow surface.
You know, that’s just show I need to go back home, work hard again, and just be ready for next year clay court season, and, you know, be better than this year.
The other thing is, yeah, it’s just gives me you know, every match gives me a lot of confidence until the last one. That’s what I just need to keep it up, you know, just have all those positive memories and, you know, try my best in another weeks and another tournaments.
They just show that I can play with all those guys, you know, I can beat all of them. Yeah, just keep going and waiting for another chance.
Q. Is your dream to win a Slam? Can you achieve your dream?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, of course. I mean, that’s why I’m here, you know. I’m coming to every Grand Slam and trying my best, you know. So far it was the semifinal. Maybe I would say better lose now than in the final.
So, you know, getting some experience. I’m still quite young and have some time to play a couple of those tournaments. You know, if sometimes, would be nice.
Courtesy of ASAP.
June 4, 2010
Roland Garros—Paris, France
It used to be that Robin Soderling would enter a Grand Slam event with the intention of a winning a few rounds, before packing up his belongings and heading off to the next ritzy locale on Tour. There was never really any focus or emphasis placed on his results; the journey of becoming a professional player appeared more than rewarding, while building his legacy remained low on the totem pole. But, as we’ve witnessed at this year’s French Open, Soderling’s belief and desire to be the best, has now become the forefront of everything that he stands for.
Ousting an almost mirror image off himself today in Court Philippe Chatrier, Soderling battled back from a two sets to one deficit to defeat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Absorbing the blistering power of his Czech opponent, Soderling utilized his experience from last year’s event to fight into the finals. In a match that was filled with numerous breaks of serve, Soderling’s off backhand return was perhaps his best weapon on the day. I’ve always found that the off backhand return on the deuce side was never really a shot that could be defended; it’s a surprise shot to say the least, and because a majority of the players on Tour hit their forehands more effectively out of their backhand corners, the utilization of this shot also provides great dividends.
Striking 62 winners (20 more than Berdych), Soderling’s second serve was also more potent on the day. With both players averaging 204 KPH on their first serves, Soderling provided 12 more KPH to his second serve throughout the contest.
Appearing tighter than usual to begin the contest, Soderling’s dip in form during the second and third sets was highlighted by losing his serve on three occasions. After fighting through a tough fourth set, Soderling began the fifth set with an early break, before losing his serve in the ensuing game.
From that point on, the pair held their deliveries until the seventh game of the set. Aided by a bad bounce off of the service line, Soderling eased a one-handed backhand up-the-line to set up triple break point. Breaking serve two points later, Soderling would win the final three games of the match to advance.
Showing some rare emotion on match point after Berdych sailed a backhand wide, the relieved Swede elevated his status (forever) as one the best clay-court players in the world.
I know it’s a little strange to connect Soderling’s name with prominent clay-court results. His movement is certainly not the best out there, and his long chopping swings, coupled with his lack of soft hands, pretty much eliminates drop shots from taking place. His cloud disturbing ball toss is subject to an errant throw now and again, while his technique on the volley will not be featured in any coaching manuals. However, with all that can be criticized in the Swede’s game, his deafening power and ability to believe that he can defeat anyone in world, have without question assisted him towards his rise to the world’s top ten.
Having absolutely no trouble in playing the villain on Tour, Soderling now finds himself in a similar position to last year. He has already defeated the defending champ in Roger Federer, and now eagerly awaits a rematch with four-time champ Rafael Nadal.
Setting up an enticing battle on Sunday, Soderling was very straight forward when sharing his preference between facing Nadal or Jurgen Melzer in the championship match.
“I prefer to play Nadal,” said Soderling during his on-court interview.
Soderling’s definitive on-court answer was interesting in the sense that he’s not only looking to win his first ever Grand Slam title, but he’s also looking to defeat the best clay-court of all time in the process. Many other players would have opted for an easier match against Melzer, while taking the title anyway they could. But what Soderling has exuded throughout the past twelve months, and what he has proved during the last year is that irrespective of his opponent on the other side of the net, he believes that the outcome of his result remains on his strings.
We’re not sure yet if we have a another addition to the short list of recent Grand Slam champions on our hands, but Soderling has certainly made the idea more plausible.
Landing in yet another final of a tournament that many felt he would lose early, Soderling has answered the call that has been trust in front of him, and passed with insurmountable power.
Soderling’s quest at Slam glory is not quite complete, and although he defeated Nadal last year in Paris, to do so again this year would potentially be one of the greatest achievements in the history of the sport.
June 2, 2010
Roland Garros—Paris, France
We’ve found ourselves in quite the predicament at this year’s French Open. Three of the top four seeds have been defeated, with the perennial favorite once again shinning through. Barring the Eiffel Tower crashing down on Chatrier Court, it appears that Rafael Nadal stands as the clear and present danger to capture his fifth title.
But what about the rest of the contenders? Do they really have zero to no shot of any podium glory?
Robin Soderling upheld his giant killer label by overpowering Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, while Tomas Berdych has not dropped a set in advancing to his first career final four.
And if a happy-go-lucky, slap-shot Austrian does it for you, then look no further than Jurgen Melzer. Ousting Novak Djokovic in five thrilling sets in the quarterfinals, the 29-year-old Vienna native has just entered the peak of his career.
Not taking anything away from Nadal at this point—but the “sure pick” Spaniard may have a thing or two to consider before hoisting the Coupe de Musketeer on Sunday.
Let’s now take a look at Friday’s final four match-ups:
Rafael Nadal vs. Jurgen Melzer
Nadal leads the pair’s head-to-head 2-0, while never dropping a set against Melzer.
Surviving a few testy moments against Nicolas Almagro, Nadal seems to have finally put to rest his fourth-round loss of last year. Chasing down unreachable balls throughout his first five matches, the Nadal’s form appears comparable to 2005-2008.
I think it’s safe to say that we know what we’re going to get from Nadal come Friday, but what about Melzer? The unlikely latter round participant has not only come forward under the radar, but perhaps under the confines of the facility.
Possessing a dynamic blend of serve and drop shot tennis, Melzer displayed his court guile in overcoming a two set deficit against Djokovic. Once known for his mental frailty, Melzer can now lay claim to overcoming some of the best clay-courters in the world in their own backyard.
However, Melzer’s 15 minutes (or five rounds) of fame could be headed towards a shattering end. The 29-year-old won’t have fresh legs on his side, and considering that he’s never got more than four games against Nadal in a set, the chances of him pulling a fast one on the Mallorcan will be rare.
I feel like a broken record in saying this, but if Melzer can’t win the first set, it will be virtually impossible for him to win.
I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if this match ended in a retirement from Melzer, but here’s hoping he finishes the match and can provide some glimpses of that vivid smile he produced after he defeated Djokovic.
Pick: Nadal in straight sets
Robin Soderilng vs. Tomas Berdych
Soderling leads the pair’s head-to-head 5-3.
Tall, dark and powerful, that’s what you’re going to get when these two face off. Bulldozing through the field in Paris this year, Soderling and Berdych are responsible for preventing Federer and Murray from their scheduled semifinal clash.
There’s nothing these two can’t do on court, and they’ve shown that their size does not hinder their court speed at all.
I was present for the pair’s last meeting in Miami earlier this year; a match that Berdych won 6-2, 6-2. Before we take that loss by Soderling into consideration, the lanky Swede was quick to remind everyone that he dismissed Berdych by that same score in their match before last.
When analyzing this encounter, I’d say that Berdych has better hands around the net, with Soderling holding a touch more power. Believe it or not, Soderling also moves better on the clay than Berdych, and if it rains during their match on Friday, those conditions will favor the Swede.
Berdych seems to be enjoying himself a tad more on court, while Soderling is vindictively focused on reaching the finals in order to prove that last year’s result was not a fluke. There’s no doubt that Soderling has already accomplished that much.
When it’s all said and done between these two, look for the tally to be high in the winners errors and ace categories. I don’t really believe that the first set is as crucial in this match as it has been in others, and the victor will be determined by the player who can employ his first strike tennis more effectively.
Although Berdych has yet to drop a set, I have this feeling that La Sod knows the Chatrier Court far better than Berdych.
That will always count for something.
Pick: Soderling in four sets
June 1, 2010
Holding a 4-3 career head-to-head lead over his next opponent Tomas Berdych, Robin Soderling was quick to tell the media on Tuesday that he favored his chances of vict0ry ahead of the pair’s semifinal showdown.
Q. Berdych beat you in Miami 2 2 pretty badly. Do you think there will be any possibility of a replay of that here? What happened there that won’t happen here?
“Well, the match before I beat him 1 and 1,” said Soderling.
“I know every match is a new match, and he played great this year. He’s a dangerous player when he’s playing good.
“So of course it can happen, but I’m expecting a tough match.”
Both Soderling and Berdych have taken advantage of the slower conditions in Paris, while using their power to hit through the court.
Soderling has lost two sets in reaching the semifinals, while Berdych has yet to drop a set.
The big hitting battle is set to take place on Friday.
Quotes courtesy of ASAP.
June 1, 2010
Q. How would you rate your performance today? Were you surprised to hit quite a few aces despite the slow conditions?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, yeah. I mean, the performance of my game was pretty good today. On the other side, it was really tough conditions today again in Paris.
I think, I would say, maybe more than to play or it was like both things, you know, to play against Mikhail and then, you know, trying to fight with the conditions, as well.
It was tough, as well. Yeah, I’m pretty happy that I can keep serving well also in this pretty wet, cold conditions. That’s what I need, a good serve so I can play aggressive and play my tennis. It’s what happened today.
Q. Is your first time in semifinal in Grand Slam. How do you feel now?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, you know, it’s quite a lot of emotions just coming through, and, you know, it’s just too quick after the match. You know, I don’t have too much time to be thinking about, you know, that I’m reached the first semifinal in Grand Slam.
But anyway, I’m feeling great, you know. It’s nice to be here. It’s nice to be enjoying every day playing tennis here. That’s what I’m trying to be here, and it works well.
Q. Do you feel like coming to this point after this match and the way you are playing, that you have a good chance to win it all, to win the tournament? First Robin Soderling and then the final?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, just slowly with any like prediction of winning the tournament. You know, still there is another opponent in the next round which is semifinal which is gonna be really strong opponent.
You know, he reached the final last year here, so he’s got a lot of experience to play here in Roland Garros. You know, he beat Roger Federer today. That’s always, you know, great, great results to achieve.
So just I want to really take it same as I did all those matches before, you know. Just try to prepare for the next one, try my best on court, and whatever is gonna be next it’s gonna be next.
But for me, the important one is the next match against Robin.
Q. You will meet Robin. What is the key to beat him?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, we played a couple of matches, the last one in Miami where I played really good match. I won the score looks quite easily, but, you know, it’s not every match that easy. That’s just how it looks on the paper, you know.
So I won that match, and so it could be kind of a small advantage. But here we’re gonna play best of five sets, semifinal of the Grand Slam. That’s, you know, every time, you know, different position for me, especially for me, because he already reach it last year.
You know, the key maybe is well, I will be try just stay with my game as much as I can and try to profit from my strokes.
Q. You seemed to be able to move Mikhail back and forth almost at will today. Were you hitting especially well, or is that just your ordinary strength?
TOMAS BERDYCH: It’s tough to say it’s like special today or, you know I mean, I just trying my best, you know, today. So I don’t know if it was the best results or not. I hope I can still bring something more, because still, it’s gonna be some you know, another match waiting. So as long as the matches go, then you need to bring something little extra.
Yeah, I was hitting ball really well today. I felt great. You know, that’s also I think very important when you play against Mikhail that you don’t give him too much time because he can play really aggressive, even if he play on this slow, slow clay court.
So that was the key to keep him, you know, as far from the baseline as I can and make him run a little bit.
Q. Was the condition of the court worse or better than it was against Murray?
TOMAS BERDYCH: I think it was worse, because when we played against Andy it was dark, which is not the conditions of the court. You know, it was a rain delay, so we just left the court. You know, they cover it. Then we came, you know, they prepared the court, and then we finished the match.
But today it was rain coming during the game, and I would say last few games on the one side, I think it was from the umpire on the left, it was really slippery. It was, I would say, quite dangerous.
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah. It was really slippery, yeah.
Q. In the beginning of the second set when you had that pouring rain, did you feel almost like a kid playing with Mikhail Youzhny with the conditions, you know, like when kids want to keep playing, whatever the conditions are? And also in the third set, at the end of third set, it was that huge roar in the crowd because they were looking at the screen and seeing the results of Federer against Soderling. Did you have a reaction on court?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, so first thing, yeah, you just said it really nice. But, no, I would stay a little bit, you know, a little bit lower with the emotions. I mean, as I said, I was trying to win every point, and as it works that good, it was just a bonus that the set the second set went pretty easily.
But I would say that the really important game which turn it really well on my side was when it was 5 3 in the first set and I was serving; I was 40 Love up, and then he gets back on deuce and that game was really close.
So, you know, maybe if he make a break back then everything would be different; doesn’t happen, so that’s why it looks how it looks. And, yeah, the emotions or what the people saw on the screen, I mean, I think it was in the last game when I was serving.
Well, I just heard some, you know, noise coming from the crowd. And, well, obviously it has to be something different than our game because I was just waiting for balls. So it has to be some results, but I didn’t take, you know, any attention to that and just was trying to focus on my game.
Q. Do you feel like at this point in this tournament like you’re playing the best tennis in your career, like pulling all together?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, this is the question what everybody likes, you know, if I’m playing my best tennis in the career. You know, it’s tough to say, because I hope not. I hope that I can still bring something more and I can, you know, keep it for long period of time.
Then it could be, you know, the really important thing what I needs to do in my game, and that’s how it is, you know.
Yeah, I’m playing well, definitely. That’s right. I’m happy for it. But I just want to keep it, you know, a little bit, yeah, lower. That it’s, yeah, well, kind of it’s not that good and still I can bring something better for the next games.
Q. Is there an area of your game that you have worked on specifically this year? Anything that you would pinpoint that’s been an improvement for you?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, yeah. I mean, it’s gonna be couple of things. The first one, which is not only for this year, that’s my movement on the court.
You know, because with my tall and everything, my well, big body, it’s really tough to move well on the court, and that was the thing what I needs to improve. So far it looks like that it works, and it was a good job made with my coach.
The other thing, of course, I mean, I was kind of guy who just liked to play really aggressive, but sometimes I was maybe too much, you know, just go too much for every shot. Then you just come with the mistakes, and that’s not the way of the modern tennis.
I still need to play really aggressive but with more control, and, you know, be a little bit patient on the court. That’s what it is.
But, yeah, it’s gonna be some more other things, but this one I would say it’s me.
Courtesy of ASAP.
June 1, 2010
Roland Garros—Paris, France
Big hitting Czech Tomas Berdych continued his demonstrative form at this year’s French Open by destroying Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
Advancing to his first career Grand Slam semifinal, Berdych won 86 percent of his first serve points, while striking 28 winners. Breaking the serve of Youzhny on six of 12 occasions, Berdych never lost his serve during the one hour and 54 minute match.
Not losing a set en route to the semifinals, Berdych had defeated Andy Murray, and John Isner in the previous rounds.
Reaching the finals of Miami in March, Berdych appears fresh and ready to lay claim to his immense talent. The 24-year-old will next face Robin Soderling, who caused the upset of the event thus far by defeating defending champ Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Federer was attempting to win his 17th Grand Slam title, while holding onto his No. 1 ranking. The Swiss will now have to wait for the results of Nadal and Novak Djokovic for the remainder of the event in order to determine his ranking outcome.
Berdych and Soderling have met on seven occasions, with the Swede leading 4-3.
June 1, 2010
Perhaps it was his quest of topping Pete Sampras’ all-time record for week’s ranked No. 1? Perhaps it was the pressure of holding onto his No. 1 ranking if he reached the semifinals? Perhaps it was the heavy conditions (which were caused by two rain delays) that had taken over the usually sunny fortnight in Paris? Whatever the case, and whatever way you care to diagnose the set of circumstances that unfolded at Roland Garros today, full credit must be begin to Robin Soderling.
Defeating Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 for the first time in 13 career meetings, Soderling created the biggest upset of the tournament thus far, while further exemplifying his name as a history crusher.
Cast under damp, cold and drizzly conditions, the crew-cut Swede was aided by Mother Nature during his monumental upset. Ending Federer’s streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearances, Soderling can now lay claim to defeating the defending champ in Paris for the second straight year.
Overcoming the loss of the first set, Soderling used his round house forehand to rack up a majority of his 49 winners. Converting on four of nine break point chances, Soderling broke Federer in the ninth game of the fourth set before serving out the match.
Prior to the contest taking place, Federer told the media that he enjoyed playing Soderling because of the pace that he brought to the court. What Federer did not mention to the media (which is no fault of his own considering he’d never played the Swede in wet conditions) was that a damp clay-court would favor Soderling.
The reactive surface at Roland Garros has never been conducive to players with compact strokes. When it rains on clay, what inevitably happens is the court becomes ultra slow, and players with long loopy, and powerful strokes will usually prevail. Teimuraz Gabashvili encountered the same fortune against Andy Roddick by defeating the American on a slow Suzanne Lenglen Court in the third-round.
When reflecting back on Soderling’s victory, I can’t in good conscious admit that Federer did not play his best. Federer won 88 percent of his first serve points, while winning 100 percent of his second serve points during the first set. But as the rain started to become a factor, so to did Soderling’s menacing velocity and margin, while Federer’s game became less affective. In essence, Soderling dealt with the conditions much better.
Striking his serve upwards of 220 KPH, Soderling blazed 14 aces past Federer, while winning 73 percent of his first serve points. Although Soderling’s volleys have never been his strength, he did succeed on a crucial net point to set up his final break of the match. Soderling also produced the point of the match by saving a Federer set point in the third set by slam dunking an overhead. Federer would fight the ball back before Soderling produced a no look backhand volley winner.
After dropping the third set, Federer had a decent opportunity to take control of the fourth set by breaking Soderling to lead 2-0. In true form of his ball striking during the contest, Soderling immediately broke Federer in the ensuing game, with a powerful display of deuce and ad-court returning. Standing in the center of the soggy conditions that he had just defeated the Swiss, Soderling addressed his monumental victory during his on-court press conference, which was conducted by Cedric Pioline.
“It’s not bad for sure,” said Sodlering, when referring to defeating Federer and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back years. “I love this court, and I started to feel a lot of confidence before the event started.”
Soderling’s analysis of his clay-court confidence coming in was quite surprising, considering his recent slumping form. After reaching the finals in Barcelona, the Tibro native went onto lose three of four matches. Although his form from last year’s event spoke for itself, I’m not really sure Soderling was as confident as he suggested.
From Federer’s standpoint, today’s loss was obviously devastating. Not losing before the semifinals of a Major event since the French Open in 2004, Federer will now have to wait helplessly aside while witnessing the fate of his No. 1 ranking. Nadal currently stands with a chance to overtake the Swiss if he wins the event, with Novak Djokovic holding an outside shot as well.
It’s ironic when you think of the historic significance that Soderling shares with two of the game’s greatest players. A year ago almost to the day, Soderling sent four-time champ Nadal crashing out of the event, and later went onto lose Federer. As a result of Nadal’s loss, and the injury he sustained in Paris, the Spaniard did not participate at Wimbledon, and subsequently went onto lose his No. 1 ranking.
Federer is now in the same position that the Spaniard was in last year, and it’s all thanks to Soderling. I guess in many ways, although the career’s of Federer and Nadal will be defined by the amount of Majors that they win, and how their head-to-head record pans out, Soderling’s name will be loudly known as the thunder through the umbrellas that shattered significant steaks for either player.
Love him or hate him, you have to respect what Soderling has been able to accomplish during the last two French Opens.