Berdych Previals in Washington; Querrey Ousted

August 5, 2010

Legg Mason Tennis Classic—Washington, D.C.

Second-Round results:

No. 1 seed Tomas Berdych d. Dmitry Tursunov 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-1; Janko Tipsarevic d. No. 6 seed Sam Querrey 7-6(3), 6-3; David Nalbandian d. No. 7 seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3; No. 8 seed Marcos Baghdatis d. Horacio Zeballos 7-6(3), 7-6(5); Illya Marchenko d. No. 9 seed Ernests Gulbis 6-1, 1-0 ret. (heat);  Marco Chiudinelli d. No. 10 seed Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-3; Alejandro Falla d. No 11 seed Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 3-2 ret. (right calf), and No. 16 Andrey Golubev d. Kristof Vliegen 6-2, 7-6(7).

Legg Mason Tennis Classic Draw Preview and Analysis

July 30, 2010

Andy Roddick of the United States serves to compatriot Mardy Fish during the semi-finals of the Atlanta Tennis Championships in Johns Creek, Georgia July 24, 2010. Fish defeated Roddick to advance to the finals. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

The third week of the Olympus US Open Series will bring the ATP World Tour to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington D.C.

Beginning six weeks of intense hard-court action, the Washington event will set the platform for the upcoming Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati. The hot and humid conditions in D.C. have never been easy for the ATP players to deal with (especially during the day), but there is no doubt that the fitness and mental fortitude of every main draw player will be pushed to the limit.

Two-time defending champion Juan Martin del Potro remains sidelined with a wrist injury and will not be able to compete for a third straight title. The Tandil native has set a comeback date for the end of September, and will be sadly missed during the current and forthcoming marquee events on the circuit.

With three of the top 10 players in the world present in Washington this year, let’s now take a look at the top and bottom halves of the draw, and who the potential winners and surprises could be.

Top Half:

Wimbledon finalist, Tomas Berdych will lead the way in Washington this year. Fresh off of his first Grand Slam final in London, which was followed by a semifinal performance at the French Open, Berdych will occupy the unlikely role of the being the favorite this week. Receiving a bye in the first-round, Berdych will face either Dmitry Tursunov or Teymuraz Gabasvili in second-round action.

Looking ahead at other potential winners in the top half of the draw, No. 3 seed Fernando Verdasco, No. 5 seed John Isner, and No. 9 seed Ernests Gulbis can’t be overlooked.

Verdasco, who spent last week training in Las Vegas in order to better prepare for his hard-court march, took a late wildcard into the event. Originally slated to make his first hard-court appearance in Toronto, Verdasco will make his debut in Washington this year. Losing four of his last five matches on Tour, Verdasco will be adamant on changing his fortunes on the hard-courts of North America.

Marathon man Isner will be looking to add to his recent finals appearance in Atlanta. Reaching four finals this season, Isner continues to prove that his will and serving prowess are more than adequate weapons to sustain a top 20 position. One wonders if fatigue and injury will catch up with the 6′9″ American, considering that most of his matches this year have gone to the limit—see his Wimbledon first-round against Nicolas Mahut, and more recently the finals of Atlanta against Mardy Fish.

Nevertheless, Isner is currently surrounded by an aura of confidence and hype, and those variables are often more valuable than a put-away forehand.

The dangerous groundstrokes of Latvian Gulbis will be interesting to monitor in Washington. Returning from injury last week in Los Angeles, the 21-year-old was bounced from the event in the second-round, but not before receiving multiple code violations and saving four match points. Gulbis has exhibited the type of form that has challenged and defeated the top players in the world, but remains an enigma considering the frequent early round losses that he’s encountered in the past.

Gulbis does though, remain one of the purest ball strikers on the circuit, and could become a nightmare for anyone to face if his timing and confidence returns.

Other dangerous floaters that lurk in this half include: Richard Gasquet, James Blake, and Marcos Baghdatis.

Although Berdych provides the most bang for the buck in this half, something tells me that Verdasco’s week of heavy duty training in Las Vegas will aid him towards a first time final.

Pick: Verdasco

Bottom Half:

Is it time for Andy Roddick fans to push the parachute button on their backpacks, or will the three time champ and two time finalist turnaround his slumping form in Washington?

Roddick’s year has been filled with quite a few notable momentum changes. His season began with a flourish by taking home two tournament titles in Brisbane and Miami, while reaching two other finals in San Jose and Indian Wells (all on hard-courts). However, a hiatus from the clay-court season derailed Roddick’s level of play, and saw him encounter earlier-than-expected losses at the French Open and Wimbledon. Observing his matches in Atlanta two weeks ago, Roddick was far from his hard-court best. The American struggled with his returns, and lost a set in each of his first two matches before falling in straight sets to Fish in the semifinals. Roddick’s Washington record does speak for itself, and I think it’s safe to say that if he’s hoping for a successful summer season, than a deep charge in Washington must be achieved.

Roddick was handed a generous draw up until the semifinals, with the exception of giant killer and former top three player David Nalbandian as a potential quarterfinal foe.

Nalbandian pulled off an epic performance in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup against Russia, and his silky smooth backhand has always excelled on hard-courts.

The top quarter of this half contains four players who could all advance to the semifinals. No. 4 seed Marin Cilic, No. 6 seed Sam Querrey, No. 11 seed Lleyton Hewitt, and No. 15 seed Fish have all shown flashes of brilliance on the asphalt this season.

Cilic, who has been in a slump as of late, returns to action after an early exit from Wimbledon. The lanky Croat blazed to the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier this year, but has cooled off considerably after signs of reaching the top 10. Querrey has always thrived during the North American events, but has struggled to sustain respectable results in tournaments of larger stature. He does remain a menacing force on hard-courts, and appears like a good pick to reach the semifinals considering Hewitt’s recent hip injury.

Fish, who remains the man of the moment, will enter Washington on a two tournament winning streak. Making the veteran decision to skip the Los Angeles event last week, Fish’s stock would gain further value if he could bag his third title in a row. Entering the meat of the summer circuit with Toronto and Cincinnati on the horizon, Fish would send a clear message to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer that he’s the player to beat with a victory in D.C.

Although Fish has shown nothing short of the desire to achieve the most out of his game during his final year’s of his career, I still feel that his forehand can be exposed by the right caliber player.

All in all, the bottom half of the draw appears far less predictable than the top half. In saying that, one has to think that Roddick will be licking his chops with del Potro not defending his crown. Five final appearances will definitely spur Roddick’s chances at victory. Although the Toronto and Cincinnati events provide more points and prize money, Roddick’s US Open chances—in my eyes anyway—will rest on how he performs in Washington.

Pick: Roddick

Champion: Roddick

Legg Mason Classic Main Draw

July 30, 2010

The draw for the 2010 Legg Mason Tennis in Washington, D.C. was released on Friday. Beginning six week of exclusive hard-court action, the 48-man draw in the Nation’s capital will consist of three top 10 players.

Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick, and Fernando Verdasco will be the featured players.

For the complete Legg Mason Classic draw, click the link below.

Legg Mason Classic main draw.

Reviewing Wimbledon: Part 1

July 10, 2010

Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun reacts in his match against Serbias Novak Djokovic at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis championships in London, June 30, 2010.   REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

It’s too early to make predictions for the US Open; I think they at least have to play the Master’s Series events in Canada and Cincinnati before we do that. That’s especially true now that the defending champion of the event won’t be playing it due to injury, the player who has dominated the event in the past decade is slumping, and the man dominating the tour at the moment hasn’t been past the semis there.

But one thing we can do is look at the players who made a splash at this year’s Wimbledon, where they stand now, and what they need to do between now and then to be ideally prepared for the year’s last major. We start with none other than …

*Rafael Nadal*: After winning his eighth major and solidifying his stature as the game’s No. 1, we’ve seen a few, including (sigh) Chris Chase speculating about whether the Spaniard can match Roger Federer’s 16 Grand Slam wins.

Let me be emphatic: We should not be talking about this yet. It’s been five years since Nadal won his first major and he now has eight; he’s also been through a grocery list of injuries in that time and is having to schedule more and more carefully to avoid hurting himself. For now, let’s focus on a few other goals that more attainable but far from automatic.

First of all there’s the US Open, the one major he hasn’t won. This year is reminiscent of 2008 in more ways than one, now that Nadal has completed the Channel Slam for the second time and has firmly established himself as the best in the world. He fell short that year, losing to Andy Murray in the semis, saying later that the season had finally caught up with him and he had “nothing left.”

The US Open’s position as the last major of the year is always going to be tough for the player who works hardest on the court, and it’s surface is both faster than Nadal’s liking and least forgiving of his brittle joints.

This year is different from 2008 in one key respect: no Summer Olympics, meaning the Spaniard won’t be flying halfway around the world to win one more event before the Open starts, thus tiring himself out even more. That should work in his favor, but if he’s going to win the Open, it’ll probably need to be in the next couple of years, and need to be accomplished by weathering the storm of huge, flat hitter who pushes him to the distance.

Rafa’s goals for the near future are probably to grab that US Open trophy and break Bjorn Borg’s record at Roland Garros. That would give him three more majors, which would also equal Borg’s GS total. If he achieves that in the next couple of years, then we can start talking about the possibility of him equaling Pete Sampras total. Then, and only then, would I start talking about him matching Federer’s total, and that’s assuming the Swiss hasn’t added to it.

*Tomas Berdych*: In between the stretches in which he appeared completely unnerved by the setting of the Wimbledon final, the big Czech looked as though he were capable of really hurting Nadal with his serve. He probably could have made a great match of it had he saved his best performance for final Sunday and raised his game for the big occasion; in other words, if he’d been a bit more like Nadal.

It goes without saying by this point that Nadalian characteristics, especially mental ones, aren’t that common. Berdych’s success on the grass (and his semifinal appearance) on the clay of Paris have contributed to his having a ranking of No. 8, and should make him confident going into the
summer hard court season (where he’s beaten Nadal twice).

New York fast courts should reward his serving and flat hitting, but will be hard on his slim physique. That bad news is that he’s never been past the fourth round there, but the good news is that he’d never been past the fourth of Roland Garros or the quarters of Wimbledon before this year.

*Andy Murray: *Britain’s No. 1 showed up at Wimbledon playing well, wasn’t overwhelmed by the occasion, and showed no fear of Rafael Nadal in the semis. In that sense, the fact that he lost in straight sets is all the more disheartening, as it appears he couldn’t have done much of anything better.

With Darren Cahill now at his side, the Scot has a lot of defense to play in North America, both in the sense that he’s defending points from his victory in Canada last year and must prove that he’s still a threat at the majors. Should he take good care of his body, though, a better result than last year’s fourth round showing at the Open should be a given, and it’s speed will make it more possible for him to take time away from guys with big forehands.

*Novak Djokovic: *After an early struggle with Oliver Rochus, who has a history of causing struggles for the Serb, Djokovic looked awfully good for four rounds, outdueling the hot grasscourt hand Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth and obliterating Andy Roddick’s conqueror Lu Yen-Hsun in the quarters.

Then, against Berdych in the semis, he simply didn’t have the answers. Berdych’s game had a lot to do with that, as he hits winners with ease, punishes weak serving, and offers few opportunities on his own service game.

What was most discouraging about that result, though, was how Djokovic responded to the loss of the second set. His body language suggested defeat was inevitable, and he surrendered his final break of service by double-faulting. True, he has struggled with his serve ever since Todd Martin made the odd choice of trying to tweak it, but the direction of that last double and his reaction to it suggested not so much a technical breakdown as indifference.

And the 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 scoreline was depressingly similar to his loss to Marat Safin at Wimbledon 2008 (6-4, 7-6, 6-2). This, combined with his early (but thankfully not recent) tendency toward withdrawals suggests that, once he falls behind, Djokovic is already thinking about his next match.

That mentality bodes more ill than his serving woes or breathing problems.

*Lu Yen-Hsun:* Kudos to the man from Taoyuan for his big fourth round win over Roddick. That said, whenever a little-known player scores a big win over a big name, there’s a simple test for predicting where they go from here: Listen to the commentators, the coaches, or the other players to see if they say this little-known player has the biggest or best (insert shot) or the best or most (insert attribute) on tour.

No one was saying anything like that about Lu, which made his beating at the hands of Djokovic easy to anticipate. His age (26) also suggests that he won’t be back.

I’ll be back later to give similar treatment to players who had a disappointing Wimbledon.

Wimbledon Day 13 Blog: Halfway to History

July 5, 2010

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Wimbledon—London, England

Could it be that at the ripe old age of 24, Rafael Nadal has already began his race against history, and not against defeating his on-court opponents?

Capturing his second Grand Slam title of 2010 on Sunday over Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon, Nadal pocketed his eighth Major championship, while leaving the window wide open for a march towards Roger Federer’s total of 16 titles.

With his dominating straight set win over the Czech, Nadal currently holds two more Majors than Federer did at 24.

Nadal’s ability to fight through the 128-man field, and display the courage and resilience to remain the last man standing at the end of a fortnight will likely continue.

Watching the Spaniard pick apart Berdych’s in form game, I couldn’t help but wonder if and when Nadal could potentially reach Federer’s mark of 16 Majors? I’m in no way stating that I believe that Federer is done winning big titles—because I don’t—but we must also not shy away from the overall mark of 16 titles when predicting what the future may entail, because unknown number aren’t helpful.

It would truly be a monumental feat if Nadal could continue to fight through the grinding Tour calender, and remain competitive until he was well into his 30s. I personally don’t believe that he will be able to play that long—especially with the brand of tennis that he chooses to play—but then again, the future remains an unknown commodity.

However, Nadal likely has at least five good year’s left in his body, which would leave him with 21 more Slams at his disposal, including this year’s US Open.

Hard-courts will always be difficult for Nadal to complete on, simply because of the stiff and pounding nature of the surface. Nadal has poured in more than respectable results on the asphalt, including his 2009 Australian Open victory. But when considering that seven of his eight Majors have come on either clay or grass, there’s no mystery that further hard-court success will be difficult to come by.

Not losing his serve against Berdych throughout his victory, Nadal showcased his continued strength at out-thinking his opponents. Nadal’s serve has never been the overpowering bullet that so many of the top players posses, but what he achieves perhaps better than any other player is the innate knowledge of knowing where the return is headed. Sprinting over to defend the second shot of his service games, Nadal either quickly takes the offense in a point, or better yet neutralizes his opponents by forcing them into drawn out rallies.

Nadal will have to address his point composition (and length of each point he plays) going forward in his career, especially if he intends on sustaining the health of his knees.

Saving all four of his break points against Berdych, Nadal was optimistic on his return games by converting on four of seven break chances. Not losing a set to Berdych since 2006, Nadal has won an incredible 17 straight sets against the Czech. Appearing relaxed throughout his second career Euro Slam march, Nadal provided the on-court crowd with a forward somersault dive and fist pump to commemorate his successful campaign.

Admitting that a US Open triumph remains the top goal for the remainder of his career, Nadal went onto suggest that his immediate future will include some much deserved R&R.

“Right now I’m very happy to win Wimbledon. Yeah (smiling). We gonna think about US Open in one month. Right now we just relax and enjoy for me this amazing season,” said Nadal.

“Was very difficult for me to be back at my best. I did, so is very important and emotional moment for me. I want to enjoy that. For sure, keep working to try to be in the US Open finally ready to try to win. But for sure US Open gonna be one of my goals for rest of my career.

“But right now is enjoy the beach, fishing, golf, friends, party, and Mallorca.”

It remains to be seen if Nadal can cap off his fantastic return to dominance by taking home his first US Open title. However, what does seem apparent from the jaguar-quick Mallorcan is his balanced and professional lifestyle.

His family life seems to be in order after a trying ‘09. His tournament schedule appears ready to morph around his health, and his already invincible game still has room for improvement.

If anything, Nadal’s continued drive towards history, much like his willingness to wake up everyday and be a better player, will result in his prolonged stay at the reigns of the sport.

It’s goes without saying that it’s nearly impossible to determine what the future will hold for a player’s career when it’s all said and done. But taking into consideration what we already know about Nadal, and his desire to win the grandest titles the sport has to offer, I’d say it’s a safe bet to at least claim that we haven’t seen the last of the trophy biting Spaniard.

Standing halfway to history didn’t appear like a possibility at the beginning of the season, but now with eight Slam titles in the bag, Rafael Nadal has clearly cemented himself as menacing force towards the current record books.

Wimbledon 2010 Issue 14: July 5—Men’s Final Wrap Up

July 5, 2010

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by: Tom Cochrane

The writing was on the wall after Robin Soderling snapped Roger Federer’s streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals in Paris, a feat juxtaposed with Rafael Nadal’s complete and utter French Open dominance. But, after the conclusion yesterday of the year’s third major, there is no longer any doubt. By capturing his second consecutive Grand Slam and the eighth of his illustrious career, Rafael Nadal confirmed in emphatic fashion that he is the best tennis player in the world right now.

Day 13 Recap

Playing in his first ever Grand Slam final, Tomas Berdych made a start that was eerily similar to the start made by Vera Zvonareva in the women’s final 24 hours earlier. Berdych held his opening few service games confidently and appeared as if he was ready to seriously challenge Nadal’s 13 match winning streak at the All England Club. But a sloppy Berdych service game at 3-all gave Nadal the first break of the match and, with Nadal conceding just 4 points on serve for the entire first set, it was duly and ruthlessly converted. A second break gave Nadal the opening set, 6-3, as part of a 5 game streak that included the successful defense of 3 break points by the Spaniard in the first game of the second set.

Urged on by his entourage, Berdych held serve comfortably throughout the second set and a tiebreaker appeared on the cards. But down 5-6, Berdych then delivered the most disastrous of service games, with an errant forehand giving Nadal the game to love and a 2 sets to love lead. A glimmer of hope, in the form of a break point, was presented to the Czech early on in the third set, but he was unable to capitalize. After that, the door was firmly shut for Berdych in the Nadal service games and, in a near-replica of the second set, Berdych came out at 4-5 attempting to stay in the set, the match and the tournament.

Once again, Nadal played tough, making lots of returns and not providing Berdych with cheap points. And once more, Berdych faltered under the constant pressure piled on by Nadal. After a little over 2 hours on-court, Rafael Nadal was the Wimbledon champion once again, 6-3 7-5 6-4.

For Berdych, who spoke and handled himself exceptionally well after the match, it was a case of missed opportunities. The Czech’s inability to convert any of the 4 break points he earned during the match was the most glaring of his faults, but Berdych also didn’t serve as well as he had done in previous matches, particularly in the first set and a half of the final. Nonetheless, the fortnight has to go down as the best of Berdych’s career, and as I mentioned the other day, I think he will be one of the leading contenders in future Grand Slams, especially the two which are played on hard-courts.

For Nadal, it was a solid rather than spectacular win, the Spaniard perhaps at his most dynamic in performing a forward somersault immediately following his victory. But just like Serena Williams on Saturday, Nadal did enough to win and claim Grand Slam number 8. That tally moves him past John McEnroe and puts him equal with legends Lendl, Connors and Agassi. Still just 24 years old, it will be fascinating to see how Nadal’s body holds up as he chases the record of 16 (and counting) held by his great rival, Roger Federer.

That’s it for Wimbledon 2010. The ATP and WTA Tours now move to the hard-courts of North America, as the players gear up for the year’s final major, the US Open in New York. Rest assured I’ll be back for the start of all the action from Flushing Meadows in late August.

W: Tomas Berdych Finals Press Conference

July 5, 2010

Q. How good was Rafa today?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, he was really good. I mean, he was strong. I think the biggest difference between us was that when he get a chance, he just took it, you know. He give me one in the second set, one in the third set, and none of them I can, you know, bring it to my side and just made a break.

That just show how strong he is. I think it was just really about the small difference.

Q. We all know what makes Rafa so good on clay: his movement and his spin. What are the most difficult things about his grass court style of play?

TOMAS BERDYCH: You know, I think he can ?? the things what he can do on the clay is that he’s moving extremely well. You know, he can play really with a lot of spin, which makes him not to making almost any mistakes.

And on top of that, he just bring that, you know, he can play more aggressive on the faster court here, on the grass. It just makes him really dangerous.

Q. Can you talk about what your game strategy was going in and how you tried to vary it as it played out.

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, it’s tough to say that I don’t have any strategy. But, of course, you know, I don’t know if you can say like weaker parts of him ? it’s not many of them ? and, you know, you just try play your best tennis.

You know, it’s not like that you gonna go there and you know that he’s doing something wrong or something like that. You know, it’s the final, so you gonna face the toughest opponent in the draw, you know.

So it’s really tough to find out some special tactic. So my strategy was just, you know, concentrate for myself, start well and, you know, waiting for some little chances.

But, as I said before, he took it, you know.

Q. Do you consider at this time Nadal the best and Federer behind him?

TOMAS BERDYCH: I mean, ranking shows that. So if it’s fine like that, then yeah.

Q. What are your thoughts about the differences between the two of them right now?

TOMAS BERDYCH: I mean, you can see the differences when they gonna play each other. You cannot say that I beat Federer here and lost to Nadal, because every match is completely different.

So I don’t want to judge it like that, that I play to one guy and lost to another opponent in the final. So, yeah, only what you can see is in the ranking, and that’s it.

Q. There’s only one slam that Nadal hasn’t won yet: the US Open. What are your thoughts about his game on the hard courts at the Open?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, I think, you know, his results on hard court are, yeah, quite not that good as on the clay and on the grass. So maybe it could be the reason of, you know, the schedule of the tournament in the States which is quite a little bit later on in the season, and, you know, how he’s struggling with the injuries and health.

So, you know, it could be the reason. But still, I mean, he never losted to bad opponent. So, you know, you need so many things to do the great results. I think it could wait for him this year, but who knows.

Q. Do you consider him the favorite at the Open?

TOMAS BERDYCH: I mean, it’s tough to say right now favorite. You don’t know what’s gonna happen in next few days. It can happen anything. Whatever. Tough to say right now when the US Open’s gonna be in two months.

Everybody can be favorite, you know.

Q. You’re disappointed now, but you’ve had a superb tournament. You beat Federer; you beat Djokovic; you’ve had had a good season. Do you feel differently about your game now? What are your aims going forward? Do you think you can become a fixture in the top five as your game should allow you to be?

TOMAS BERDYCH: That’s what I’m trying to do, you know. If I’m gonna get there and I’m gonna stay there for a couple of years, then I can tell you yes, I can do that. That’s what I’m trying to do every day when I go for practice, for match, for everything.

So right now I’m still, yeah, climbing higher and higher. But still it can go little bit more. But just, you know, need more tournaments, more matches.

Q. What’s been the difference for you this year?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Oh, yeah, I was talking about that many times. As I said, you know, just grow up a little bit, get older, get more experience. Can be more patient on court, but still can play my tennis, be aggressive, be more concentrated on court. That’s it.

Q. Is it difficult to appreciate what you’ve done in the last couple weeks right now because of the disappointment, or do you feel inside it’s been a great run?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Right now it’s really tough, you know. I think it’s same like when you win the match against those guys before. You just feeled great and you beat those players and you enjoying that, and then you needs to see something different.

But right now, of course I’m disappointing. You know, was my first final. It could go, you know, better than this. But still, you know, it was a lot of experience for me, and I hope if I can, you know, work with those experience like I did from experience of reaching semifinals in Paris, then when I get to the semis again, just go through.

So if I can do it same with the final, that would be great.

Q. What was the wind like today?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, was quite windy today.

Q. How did it affect things?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, affect? I mean, it was same for both of us. I mean, of course his game is I would say quite easier to play in the wind. But I needs to figure it out, how to play, as well, in the wind. I don’t think it just play a big difference.

But, of course if I can just, you know, choose, then I don’t like to play in the wind. But I can’t, so I need to fight with it.

Q. Do you think the size of the occasion affected the way you played?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Definitely not.

Q. Even though your first serve was a bit slow to get going?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, slower than maybe the days before, but his was stronger. So, whatever. I mean, yeah. As you said, maybe it could be slower, but I don’t think it played that much difference.

Q. What will you learn from this?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Oh, I mean, it’s gonna be many things. Right now it’s really tough to say what’s, you know, the right things I just learn from that match. I mean, it’s really many experience to just go on court, step there, to play my first final of Grand Slam.

Yeah, I mean, it’s so many just emotional experience that you have no chance to learn from any other matches. So it’s gonna be this ones. I think the only way how I can, you know, get improved and be better than right now is to play more of these matches.

You know, especially to play Rafa more because, you know, as I said, his biggest weapon is his left hand. It’s not many players like that. It’s really tough to, you know, find the right rhythm.

And I think more matches against him, then just I can get the feeling that I can do it better for next time. That’s it.

Q. You proved that you’re great on clay; you’re great on grass; your game is probably best suited to hard court. What have you got ahead for the rest of the season from that point of view?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, if you just took it like this, by statistics, then only the good time is waiting for me ahead (smiling).

No, I mean, you never know what’s gonna happen next day. So I cannot say what’s gonna be on my next tournament.

Of course, I will do the same what I did for preparation right now and Paris every day, and we will see. Of course, my tennis, I hope it’s the best for hard court.

But I think the better thing is that, you know, I can play well on all of those surfaces, which is really important for today’s tennis, which is not only like that you gonna play on clay and it’s enough for you, or just on the other ones.

So I think this is my biggest, you know, weapon, that I can play on all of those surfaces.

Q. Are you going to Bastad as planned?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Definitely I will just need to take some time to think about that, what I’m gonna do. So I cannot tell you now.

Nadal Wins Second Career Wimbledon Title

July 4, 2010

Wimbledon–London, England

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal completed his second career Euro Slam at Wimbledon on Sunday, defeating Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Never losing his serve throughout the straight set win, Nadal was utterly surgical in controlling the tempo of the match from the baseline and the net.

Winning his eighth career Grand Slam at the age of 24, Nadal will more than likely finish the year ranked No. 1.

Falling on his back after striking a final forehand winner, Nadal later performed a somersault in celebration after shaking Berdych’s hand.

The fan favorite Spaniard also captured Wimbledon and the French Open in 2008.

Nadal will enter the 2011 Wimbledon Championships riding a 14-match winning streak.

Wimbledon 2010 Issue 13: July 4

July 4, 2010

July 04, 2010 - 06130618 date 04 07 2010 Copyright imago Paul Room Tennis The Wimbledon Championships 2010 London Rafael Nadal Spain and Serena Williams USA the annual Champions Dinner in a London women Tennis WTA Tour London Wimbledon All England Championships Champions Dinner Single cut out Vdig 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd.

by: Tom Cochrone

Yesterday Serena Williams brushed off the pressure of being a raging favorite to claim her fourth Wimbledon crown and her thirteenth Grand Slam overall, moving the American up to outright sixth on the all-time Grand Slam singles titles list for women. Can Rafael Nadal absorb a similar degree of pressure to capture his second Wimbledon trophy? All will be revealed on the final day of this year’s Wimbledon championships.

Day 12 Recap

Serena Williams was the favorite with the bookmakers and the majority of tennis pundits going into the tournament, and became a near-certainty when Clijsters and sister Venus were eliminated in the quarter-finals. It’s never easy to be in the position of red-hot favourite, where wins are expected and losses are condemned as monumental chokes, but Williams showed her class, professionalism and above all, her steely determination, easily outplaying Vera Zvonareva in the women’s final to claim a second successive Venus Rosewater Dish.

The initial signs for Zvonareva were promising, with the Russian playing some solid tennis early on and not showing too many nerves. At 3-all in the opening set, it appeared that the stage was being set for a dour contest. But from that point Williams raised her level, reeling off 8 of the next 9 games to rip the heart out of Zvonareva’s challenge. The Russian added some respectability to the scoreline by then holding serve and forcing Williams to serve out the match, but it was a mere formality, the world number one wrapping up the match, 6-3 6-2.

Statistics can so often be misleading in the tennis world, where not all points have the same weighting, but in this encounter they were instructive. Williams had a dominant 29-9 advantage in terms of winners and did not face a single break point, her powerful serve being the most obvious difference between the finalists.

For Zvonareva, who also lost in the final of the women’s doubles, it was a bittersweet moment. It was the Russian’s best ever performance at a Grand Slam and confirmed her ability to match it with, and beat, the best. But tennis history is littered with stories of one Slam wonders, and the onus is now on Zvonareva to build off her Wimbledon efforts and challenge for future Grand Slam titles. As Tomas Berdych and Robin Soderling have shown in the men’s game, a breakthrough performance in a Grand Slam can generate enormous self-belief and lay the foundation for similarly impressive performances in the future.

For those critics who consider that Williams spends too much time pursuing her passions away from the tennis court, the win is further ammunition for the best player of the last decade. To my mind, it’s Williams’ down-to-earth attitude and multi-faceted lifestyle that keep her fresh and interested in the sport. If she stays fit and healthy, who knows what her final Grand Slam tally will be.

Match of the Day – Day 13

Rafael Nadal vs. Tomas Berdych

Rafael Nadal enters today’s final as the clear favourite, but the match-up against Tomas Berdych is far from an easy one for the world’s top-ranked player. Berdych has had a fabulous season to date, and his past 2 months have been as good as anyone on the ATP Tour, except for Nadal and perhaps Soderling.

Berdych shot to prominence as a prodigiously talented 18 year old, knocking Roger Federer out of the Athens Olympics in 2004 in their first ever encounter. For several years, Berdych failed to live up to the very high expectations that he had created for himself, being a solid performer on the ATP Tour but not playing to his potential. Things started to turn around last year, with Berdych pulling off some huge wins in the Davis Cup and leading the Czech Republic all the way to the final.

Coach Tomas Krupa, hired by Berdych 18 months ago, has Berdych more confident, more strategic on court and, perhaps most importantly, fitter than he has been for a long time. Berdych has enormous power off both the forehand and backhand wings, and his height allows him to generate some sublime angles, but the most important thing for the Czech is to get in position to be able to fire off those big groundstrokes. Berdych likes to plant his feet and set up for a shot with plenty of time. Unlike players such as Nadal, who are comfortable with hitting shots on the run or off-balance, Berdych prefers to be fully balanced, and that requires good court movement – an area in which Berdych has improved markedly in recent times.

Can Tomas Berdych win this match? Potentially, although it will be extremely difficult. Berdych won 3 of his first 4 matches against Nadal, but has lost the last 6, all in straight sets. Nadal was exceptional against Murray, who must consider himself a bit unlucky after turning in a good performance. The Spaniard seized his opportunities against Murray while offering very few in return, and I think he will be similarly stingy against Berdych. As Murray acknowledged, one needs to return well to have any chance against Nadal, and this is where I think Berdych will struggle. Expect Nadal to put a high percentage of first serves into play, sacrificing some pace for placement. Nadal can do this because once he has the upper hand in a rally, he very rarely squanders an opportunity. Even the Spaniard’s second serve, so reliable and with an abundance of kick, is difficult to attack.

The game plan for Berdych is similar to that for most players who come up against Nadal – he needs to go for his shots early, stay aggressive, serve and return well, and make the most of any opportunities that arise. Berdych has a greater ability to deliver those things than most players, but it’s an extremely difficult assignment all the same. Nadal has hit his peak during the second week of the tournament and I expect him to be too strong and too consistent for Berdych. Nadal in 4.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.

W: Nadal and Berdych Look Forward to Sunday’s Final

July 3, 2010

July 03, 2010 - United Kingdom - Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 3/7/10..Rafael Nadal of Spain during a practice session.

Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Czech Tomas Berdych traded thoughts on the men’s final at Wimbledon after their respective semifinal wins.

Nadal, who will be competing in his fourth Wimbledon final in a row, gave full praise to Berdych and his charge to the finals.

“He did amazing tournament. I think he played very good match against Federer; very good match today against Djokovic. He save difficult match against Brands. Yeah, he’s the best of his draw, so for that reason he’s in the final. No one opponent can be more difficult than Tomas to play this final,” said Nadal.

Nadal went onto breakdown the challenge of the Czech.

“Tomas is a very aggressive player, very good serve, very good flat shots from the baseline. So gonna be very, very difficult. Very difficult match. Is very difficult to stop him when he’s playing well, and he’s playing really well. So gonna be very difficult to play against him.”

Berdych, who defeated Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic en route, was ecstatic about reaching his first Slam final.

“I mean, right now it’s great feeling so far. I’m just trying to be enjoying the victory of today. You know, I think I will try to do the same as I did after Roger. So, you know, today just be thinking about today’s match, and since tomorrow, just leave it on side and just get ready for the finals,” said Berdych.

“I’m still not done yet here. One more to go.”

Nadal and Berdcyh will face off for the 11th time on Sunday.

For Nadal, he will be bidding for his eighth career Grand Slam.

Quotes courtesy of

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