July 3, 2010
The first time I watched Tomas Berdych play was in the fourth round of the US Open against Tommy Haas. He was only 18 then, but had already attracted some buzz for having knocked Roger Federer out of the Olympics in Greece just weeks earlier.
And at the time, it was impossible not to already be impressed with his shotmaking.
It was not like with Andre Agassi or Fernando Gonzalez, where even the viewers watching on TV could see and hear how hard the ball was being hit, but Berdych, when he had time to set up, had a way of almost casually flicking the ball into corners, lines, and angles that could not be retrieved.
In that first set alone, Berdych must have hit two-dozen winners, but it wasn’t enough. Haas squeaked out that first set and the big, lanky Czech went away after that.
The following year he returned, scoring his first victory over Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati, and capturing his first Master’s Shield in Paris. He had lacked the intangibles required to beat Haas a year earlier, but they appeared to be adding up, pairing with those stunning strokes, creating a potential Grand Slam champion.
So what happened after that? I’m not privy to Berdych’s private struggles, but over the next few years he appeared to regress. Part of the problem was Federer: That shock win over the great Swiss in Greece brought Berdych to our attention, but also to Federer’s. In 2006 the Swiss, in the midst of his most dominant season, dealt a pair of lopsided straight-sets defeats to the Czech at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Berdych had more success against Nadal that year, as his 6’5” height made Nadal’s enormous spin less imposing and his flat hitting kept the Spaniard on defensive. He racked up two more wins in Canada and Madrid against Nadal, but the latter of those two actually ended up being a detriment to the Czech’s momentum.
At the end of the match, in a moment of poor judgment he chose to mock the home crowd’s support for Nadal by gesturing for them to be quiet. In the next round against Gonzalez, they poured their scorn on Berdych, rattling him and sending him home with his metaphorical tail tucked.
For the next couple of years his results were less impressive, as Nadal broke his losing streak against him and started a new six-match run of his own. Well into his 20s, Berdych simply had not built upon his early success.
Until the end of 2009, that is. They didn’t receive much attention at the time, but Berdych’s efforts were instrumental in leading the Czech team to the Davis Cup finals. He won tough five-set encounters against Gilles Simon of France in March, Juan Monaco of Argentina in July, and most impressively, Marin Cilic of Croatia in September.
Cilic was a hot hand at the time, having beaten Andy Murray and reached the US Open quarters just before that, so to stop him in Croatia indicated big things ahead. And, about half a year later, they arrived when he topped Federer in Miami, snapping an eight-match losing streak against the Swiss.
In Roland Garros he plowed through the field, beating Murray to reach the semis before falling just short against Robin Soderling in a superheavyweight clash. The Czech took one more set from Soderling than Federer had in the previous round, and in his postmatch comments the Swede said that nearly every ball Berdych hit had been landing “six inches from the line.”
But Wimbledon may be the biggest payoff of all from the Czech’s efforts, as he has now beaten Federer for the second straight time. His quarterfinal win over the Swiss marks the first time in eight years that Federer will not reach the final round of the game’s most prestigious event.
It also gives Berdych a chance to duplicate the feat of his fellow six-fiver Richard Krajicek, who ousted Pete Sampras at the same stage of the 1996 Wimbledon.
Like with Krajicek, Berdych at his best is in a different weight class against most opponents; in his straight-sets win over Novak Djokovic in the semis, it appeared the Serb wasn’t just fighting Berdych, but gravity.
And now Berdych, who hasn’t actually won a title yet this year, has a chance to win the game’s biggest. All he has to do is beat Nadal one more time.
Too bad he hasn’t done so since that noisy day in Madrid. It was the Spaniard who ended Berdych and the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup run last year, dispatching the big man in straights on Spanish clay in December.
Nadal was an impressive player in 2005 and 2006, but has grown further since then, reaching the game’s top ranking twice now and complementing his clay court dominance with a Wimbledon and Australian Open title. He’s coming off a clay court season in which he went undefeated, sweeping all three Master’s Shields and the RG title.
His performance at Wimbledon has been impressive for nothing so much as his determination: Taken to five sets twice in week one, he has dominated week two ever since pulverizing Paul-Henri Mathieu in round four. Soderling was hitting so hard as to knock opponents’ rackets out of their hands in week one, but Nadal broke him down in the quarters, dropping just one set.
Murray played high-quality tennis in the semis, matching the Spaniard shot for shot for three sets. Nadal, however, snatched the barest hint of an opportunity that Murray gave him in sets one and three. In set two, when Murray gave none, the Spaniard simply created an opportunity.
And that’s why it’s hard to bet on Berdych, as much progress as he has made of late. One can debate whether or not Berdych’s game, with its laser groundstrokes and spot-serving, is better for grass than Nadal defense, speed, and heavy spin.
What one cannot debate is that Nadal has so many non-quantifiable advantages that we might as well call him the Intangible Man.
Since winning his first major in 2005, Nadal has lost only one Grand Slam match after winning the first set. Since then, I can think of only two times—one against Federer in the 2006 RG final, and the other in this event against Soderling—where Nadal has served for a set and been broken. In neither occasion did he actually lose the set, though.
Anger has never prompted him to throw/break a racket on court or curse at a lines judge. What should be deflating setbacks like losing the fourth set of Wimbledon or debilitating knee injuries are to him mere delays of what must come to pass.
There are those who will never enjoy Nadal’s game as much as Federer’s, and they have that right. His aggressive, physical play may lack Federer’s magical, lighter-than-air qualities, but it’s a game full of its own marvels. Against this master of the intangibles, Berdych’s beautiful ball striking probably won’t be enough.
It should provide a bright future for him, nonetheless, including a successful rest of 2010. But, on Wimbledon’s second Sunday, I pick Nadal in four.
July 3, 2010
It’s been perhaps the most entertaining fortnight in London in recent memory.
The strawberry’s and cream have been flowing as usual, but a different essence of competitiveness has encompassed The Wimbledon Championships in 2010.
We’ve seen the longest match in history, followed by a speed bump in the historic run of Roger Federer. Andy Murray once again gave his yearly English campaign everything he had, but came up short (once again) to a trigger happy opponent.
Tomas Berdych finally came of age, while beginning his descent to achieving the proposed potential that was laid out for him an early age.
However, there is still one match to play—the match that means the most—for history, and all the glory.
This year’s final will pit the familiar swashbuckling face of Rafael Nadal versus the skyscraper presence of Czech Berdych.
There is some truth to that age old saying that “anything can happen once a final rolls around,” but do we really believe that Berdych’s Cinderella charge still has one more monumental upset left on deck?
Well folks, it’s time to sit back and take a look at what may unfold during Sunday’s Super Bowl final that will take place in the cathedral called Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal vs. Tomas Berdych
Nadal leads the pair’s head to head series, 7-3.
For every ebb and flow that Nadal has gone through during the previous year, he sure has made up for it in and then some during Wimbledon.
Beginning his winning ways in April, Nadal has lost one match since his Monte Carlo victory. Powering through the likes of Robin Soderling and Murray—two men who were supposed to give him a world of hurt—Nadal has taken the difficulties of competition and turned it into his potential eighth Slam.
Battling through knee and bicep injuries against Philipp Petzschner, Nadal has rounded into physical shape quite nicely, and that could spell trouble for finalist rookie, Berdych.
Winning sixth straight matches against the Czech, Nadal has not lost a match against his finals’ opponent since the Madrid event in 2006.
There has been some bad blood between these two in previous meetings (that Madrid encounter sticks out like a sore thumb), but Nadal has been able to prevent anymore drama from developing by capturing 14 straight sets against Berdych.
However, irrespective of what history has taught us, Berdych is in fact a different player this year. His calmness and demeanor on-court represent a man who has enjoyed his craft at the highest level, while brushing aside the highest echelon of competition in the process.
Losing only one set against Federer and Novak Djokovic combined, Berdych has discovered that playing within his limits (which still includes a tremendous amount of debilitating power), has allowed for his mind and body to develop the synergy that championship players embody.
If there is a cause for concern when assessing Berdych’s chances at taking home his first Major title it’s his movement versus Nadal. Although Berdych has displayed an improvement in court positioning and quickness around the baseline, Nadal is at least two times as fast as Berdych, and has the ability to cut of angles better than anyone in the business.
Berdych will also have to deal with Nadal’s swinging ad-side serve, while contending with the Spaniard’s whipping crosscourt forehand.
Berdych has been returning exceeding well, and does possess the wherewithal to take Nadal’s serve off the rise and implement his first-strike tennis regime.
However, Nadal is the ultimate dream killer, and although he holds a great deal of compassion for his foes, his ability to win almost every major title on the planet will play dividends in this match.
This should be a close one, but there’s something about Grand Slam finals, and Rafael Nadal that seems to result in continued success.
Berdych surely has a chance—he’s taken out the King and Djoker—but does he have enough to dismiss the current world No. 1?
All in all, look for an early start to be imperative for Berdych’s success—it seems that I end up saying that about everyone else on Tour except Nadal—but when it’s all said and done, there’s no doubt that the rejuvenated Spaniard will be difficult to upend.
Pick: Nadal in four sets
July 3, 2010
by: Tom Cochrane
In extinguishing the hopes of Andy Murray and the rest of Britain on Day 11, Rafael Nadal joined some elite company. Putting aside the disappointment of being unable to defend his 2008 Wimbledon crown last year, the world number one has reached his fourth successive Wimbledon final, a feat that puts him in the company of such grass-court luminaries as Sampras, Borg, McEnroe and his great rival Roger Federer.
Day 11 Recap
On paper, the men’s semi-finals on offer on Day 11 looked like presenting a pair of very even contests. In reality, while each semi-final was closed out in straight sets, such a conclusion doesn’t tell the tale of either tussle.
First out on Centre Court were Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic. Berdych picked up right where he left off against Roger Federer, going on the attack early against Djokovic’s somewhat shaky second serve and securing the break. Berdych maintained his advantage to claim the opening set, 6-3, and broke again in the second set, the twelth seed’s hard and flat groundstrokes causing a raft of problems for Djokovic.
But Djokovic was given a second life in the second set, as a messy service game by Berdych when trying to serve out the set saw the Czech get broken back. The second set eventually went to a 20 point tiebreaker, full of drama and controversy. After Berdych squandered 4 set points, Djokovic also wasted a couple, and, moments after losing an argument with the umpire related to Hawk-Eye, a Djokovic double fault sealed his fate for the set and, in hindsight, for the tournament.
Up 2 sets to love, Berdych grew in confidence and charged ahead in the third set, as a frustrated Djokovic battled to stay in touch. Another break of the erratic Djokovic serve put Berdych in sight of the finishing line, and the Czech didn’t waver, eventually wrapping up the match, 6-3 7-6(9) 6-3.
Berdych will play world number one Rafael Nadal for the Wimbledon crown, after the Spaniard edged out Andy Murray in a high-quality second semi-final. After looking in cruise control on serve for the majority of the first set, Murray suffered a lapse in concentration late in the set, with several loose shots handing Nadal the break. Nadal duly converted the break to claim the first set, 6-4.
The second set was similar to the first, with Murray on the attack against Nadal and generally holding with ease. Nadal survived some break points on his serve to send the set to a tiebreaker, where a Nadal double fault gave Murray set point. Alas, the Murray first serve went missing and the world number one, so good on the big points, made him pay, saving that set point before taking the tiebreaker, 8 points to 6.
Just when the dream looked to have ended for Murray, the Scot gave it one last roll of the dice, finally breaking the Nadal serve. But the charge was short-lived, Nadal breaking back before breaking again to round out a famous victory, 6-4 7-6(6) 6-4.
Match of the Day – Day 12
Serena Williams vs. Vera Zvonareva
On the basis of history and experience, things do not look promising for Vera Zvonareva in today’s Wimbledon women’s singles final. The Russian faces Serena Williams, the world number one who has 3 Wimbledon titles amongst her 12 Grand Slams. A rank outsider with the bookmakers at around $6, compared with Williams’ odds of $1.20, Zvonareva has only beaten Williams once, and that was several years ago, when Williams was far from her best.
But it’s a new and improved Vera Zvonareva that the tennis world has seen at this year’s Wimbledon, with the famously fiery Russian maintaining her cool in all her matches to date and displaying some great form to boot. Zvonareva has the weapons from the back of the court to match it in rallies with Williams, and she will need to use all of those weapons to earn her points.
Compared to Williams, Zvonareva doesn’t have a big serve and is less comfortable at the net, meaning her best game plan for success is one that revolves around aggressive play from the back of the court. I’d like to see Zvonareva really go after the Williams second serve – given Serena’s power and precision with her groundstrokes, the second serve is often the shortest ball her opponent will be given in a rally. Zvonareva showed against Clijsters that she will not be intimidated by big-name players, although I wonder if that will still hold under the pressure of a Grand Slam final.
For Serena, it’s a case of only doing what she needs to do to claim another Grand Slam title. Williams has the luxury of feeling her way into the match, if she isn’t at her sharpest early on. At the same time, if Williams senses that Zvonareva is suffering from nerves, expect the American to get super-aggressive early on and not relent, just as she did against Dinara Safina in last year’s Australian Open final.
All things considered, I think Serena has the form, the experience and the style of game to win a fourth Venus Rosewater Dish as women’s champion. Zvonareva is a tough customer and, with no pressure on her, can play unrestricted, aggressive tennis and see what comes of it. But the quality of the Williams serve will give her lots of easy points, whereas each service game could become a tough hold for Zvonareva. Williams in 2.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.
July 2, 2010
Q. On a scale of one to ten, how will describe your match today? Where do you place your match?
TOMAS BERDYCH: I don’t know. It’s tough to find some number. I mean, at least it’s gonna be eight or nine. Still, the tennis ?? I mean, if the tennis, the best one, then you still needs it keep it away. So, yeah, definitely eight to nine. Yeah, I was playing really well today.
I felt, you know, quite tired since the morning, but then all of a sudden just came on court, feel great, and just win it in three sets.
Q. What does it feel like to be in the final?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, 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.
I’m still not done yet here. One more to go.
Q. You beat Federer and Djokovic in successive games. You are fear no one now?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, of course it would be bad if I say I’m in fear of somebody. So, you know, playing well, feeling great, still healthy, and I hope some energy still left there for the last one.
And of course I’m looking forward to the next one, and definitely not fear to anybody.
Q. Did you feel your performance improved today compared to your performance in beating Federer?
TOMAS BERDYCH: It’s tough to compare if my performance was better or not. It was different opponent and just different match. We played semifinals, so I don’t think so.
I just play my ?? not the best tennis, but I was playing what I need, just, you know, finish it in three sets. That’s important.
Q. Are you surprised at all considering the importance of that match that you were able to do it in straight sets, though?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Oh, of course. It was the tiebreak of the second set. But, you know, it shouldn’t be the tiebreak because, I mean, I was serving to close the set. There I just made couple of mistakes and lost my serve. Then again I have 6?3 up and give some set points to Novak.
So yeah, I mean, I was much better in that second set. I just make it a little more complicated. Finally I just made it on my side, and then he starts to be really, really down, you know, I think more mentally than physically.
Q. Did what happened to you in the semifinal in Paris make you more determined if you ever got in that position again that you wouldn’t waste the chance?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I don’t know if I can be talking like about the wasting of chance. I mean, well, I’m quite happy that it’s quite soon after the Paris. Still the memories from there are really fresh.
I just took all the positive things from the semifinals in Paris. You know, I just show that I learned from those experience in Paris. It worked pretty well today.
Q. What is the key to your Grand Slam success now at the age of 24?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, it’s many things. Definitely starts in the first round. You just need to go step by step and beat every player. You know, coming to every match, every opponent with the same goals, same tactics: be concentrated, be patient, and try your best.
So far, works pretty well.
Q. Did you feel mentally or physically stronger than in the past years? Do you sense there’s a difference in you?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Of course it is. I mean, it’s many things. I mean, I feel, yeah, more confidence. I feel more stronger by mentally side, physically as well.
Yeah, I think this is quite enough to just, you know, show the good results.
Q. You talk about the same tactics going up against no matter who you play, but on Sunday you’re gonna have two different styles. Is there a way you’re looking at each individual yet, how you might face them?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, definitely not. They’re still playing. In tennis, you have no chance to choosing your opponent.
So the better is gonna win. The one is gonna be waiting for me in the final. Even if it’s Rafa or Andy, it’s tough to be finding some, you know, special tactics or anything for them. They both have some experience with the Grand Slam finals. Me, not.
So I will try just keep, you know, concentrate for myself and playing my tennis.
Q. With the way you are playing now, don’t you see yourself as becoming the Wimbledon champion on Sunday?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, so far I’m playing, well, quite well here. Of course there is one more match to go, so just need to bring all what I have to that Sunday match.
Yeah, that’s why I’m here and why I’m trying to win every match.
Q. Are all your family gonna be here? Anybody coming over now to watch you in the final?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, my father, mother, they came already for the semis. So they are already here, and they are gonna stay until the final.
Q. This is your first Grand Slam final. Do you think all these years you have been an underperformer with your game, because people are talking about you have the game to be really good?
TOMAS BERDYCH: What was the question? Like if…
Q. Do you think all these years you have been an underperformer up to this stage?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, definitely not. I know what I’m doing. Every day if I’m gonna go practice, I know why I’m doing that. Somebody is trying to win at least one, two matches in the Grand Slam tournament.
I’m in different position. Right now I’m in the final. I’m trying the same way I did before. And, you know, that’s just how is the tennis. It’s really tough sport that you can face really tough opponents since the first round.
So definitely not. I mean, right now I’m playing well; I’m in the final. That’s how it is. I don’t think it’s the way just to be looking for the past or to the future.
Right now I’m in the final, and that’s it.
Q. Are you a good sleeper, and do you expect to be sleeping well the night before or will it just be another day as far as being able to relax?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Definitely I think the best thing what I like is to have a good sleep. I mean, I don’t think it’s anything gonna disturb me from that.
Yeah, I will enjoy that, get really relaxed, and that’s what I need. You know, the energy is getting lower and lower, and, you know, I think the sleep is the best thing how you can just, you know, bring it a little bit higher and get it back a little bit.
Q. Do you have a hobby outside of tennis?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, it’s not much time to have any specific hobbies. I mean, you know, not much. You know, if you’re just spending the time between those matches and everything just relaxing and watching some movies, music. Nothing special.
Q. Have you worked specifically on your movement over the last few years? It appears that you’re much faster and that your balance is a better on your shots.
TOMAS BERDYCH: I don’t know if something ?? I don’t know ?? well, no, definitely not. I mean, I’m doing still the same things what I did before. I don’t know how long you asking for, but no.
I mean, I know that the movement is my weak part of the tennis and I need to improve that. I’m almost working on it every day. It works pretty well. I mean, the work for my movement is pretty hard. Yeah.
Q. Who was your sport idol when you were a kid? Does Ivan Lendl mean something special to you? Did you used to watch him playing an television?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I never had any tennis idols. Well, of course so many people just putting me on side with Ivan Lendl, with part of the similar style of the game and any other specific things, like when I won my first tournament and when he did.
You know, it’s really nice to be in the part of his name. But still, you know, he achieved much, much more than me. You know, but the things needs to start somewhere.
Hopefully this time it’s really good time to start to building hopefully the similar results as he did.
Q. When did you first feel like you were ready to win a Grand Slam?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I think this question I can get after the match on Sunday. If it’s gonna go well, I mean, why now? Still one to go. Definitely I’m not gonna give you an answer for it.
Q. Was there a moment this year ? you’ve had a very consistent year ? maybe a match or a set or a week where you felt like this could be a really special year for you?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, I start quite well since the beginning of the year. You know, I never had it ?? I mean, the first tournament just reached the semis because the years before just, you know, were losing first rounds and nothing special.
But then I lost quite early in Australia, which was, you know, quite upset for me. But, you know, just threw it away and went through to the tournaments in the States. There I played really great two weeks or two tournaments, Indian Wells and Miami.
I think in Miami just came in the match against Roger when I won that match from match point down. It turns quite a lot in that match.
Q. Coming back to Lendl, did you ever talk to him?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, we talk after the French Open and a couple of other times when we just met in the United States in US Open. I know him.
Q. You said you were tired. Do you have any major issues with your body at the moment, or is it okay?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, nothing. Just feel tired a little bit. Also like all the stress from the match, which is just gone, so then you just feel a little bit like mentally tired.
But that’s all right. You know, that’s what just came after every winning match. I hope this feeling is gonna come one more again.
July 2, 2010
Cracking an inside-out forehand winner to capture the first set over Novak Djokovic on Friday, one could almost sense that Tomas Berdych was ready to unleash his tremendous talent at the most prestigious tournament in the world.
Never known for his mettle or ability to grind out close matches, Berdych has recently transcended into a player who takes a fraction of second longer before serving a big point, or using his towel to calm his nerves before combating a break point opportunity. In a nutshell, these tempo controlling nuances are what encompasses great players, and you can bet your Wimbledon lottery ticket that Berdych is well aware that he’s improved in those categories.
Berdych has always had the talent to challenge the world’s best players. Defeating Roger Federer in Athens in 2004, the Czech had also dispatched Rafael Nadal on several hard-court occasions. However, even though Berdych was well adept at creating an upset earlier in his career, his ability to close out matches when they really mattered wasn’t evident.
Proving this season that his level of play was on the incline, Berdych reached the final in Miami (defeating Federer once again), while later advancing to his first ever Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open. Although Berdych would lose in five sets to Robin Soderling during the final four in Paris, the belief of the Czech native was ever apparent. Gone was the player who appeared imposing at first when a Major draw was released, and soon faded when the pressure of the event began. Here was a competitor who was quickly becoming a viable commodity in the contender category.
What was perhaps the most enthralling component of Berdych’s semifinal victory was his commitment to playing within himself. Creating “easy power” as Brad Gilbert so appropriately put it before the match, Berdych not only showcased his nullifying power against his Serbian opponent, he also displayed his improved footwork and touch at net.
Making his move at capturing a two sets to love lead, Berdych continued to win the first point on his service games, while zipping back the serve of Djokovic. Using his tree-trunk legs to begin the connection into his devastating blows, Berdych would start the 11th game of the second set with a laser like forehand crosscourt. After receiving a donated double fault in the ensuing point, Berdych would step in and take a backhand for an off the rise winner. Djokovic would hold his nerve by blasting a 120 MPH second serve to stay in the game, but would succumb to the defense of Berdych at 15-40 after mishitting a hail-marry lob.
Although Berdych would be broken when serving for the second set, the drama that unfolded in the tiebreak would further illustrate the polished and pristine mindset of the Czech.
Enduring a rollercoaster end to the tiebreak which included needing five set points to prevail, Berdych survived the “best defense point” in Wimbledon history according to Patrick McEnroe, while once again benefiting from a final double fault by Djokovic.
Cracking the changeover chair with his racket while sitting down, Djokovic had given his all in attempting to draw the match on even terms, but did not gain the desired result because of the immovable confidence of his opponent. Although Berdych was made to work overtime in capturing the second set—a set which he could have very well lost—his ability to survive everything that Djokovic had to offer would be enough to advance.
What impressed me the most about Berdych today wasn’t the fact that he defeated his second formidable opponent in a row, or the fact that his detonating serve and forehand cleaned the titanium dioxide painted lines. More than any other impressive trait that Berdych portrayed today was his ability to make everyone in house, and around the world believe that defeating Djokovic was a foregone conclusion.
Entering the semifinals with the notion that he belonged, Berdych will now play for the crowing jewel of the sport come Sunday.
There’s something to be said about having what it takes to win the toughest matches provided by the sport. It’s not always about speed or muscle or even media attention—having what it takes to fulfill a childhood dream often comes down to personal self worth.
Berdych has always had the talent to compete. But what has change in recent months has been the combination of on-court serenity, hard work, and wanting to be challenged.
A prime example of the competitive nature of Czech was brought forth in eighth game of third set after Djokovic hit his eighth double fault. Gaining the final break necessary to serve for the finals, Berdych glanced over at Djokovic while providing a disappointing stare that screamed: “You’re really not going to make me work harder for this?”
Gone are the days where Berdcyh would give matches away, or remain eager to accept a gift from his opponent. The Berdych of 2010 is more than willing to earn his way to the top, while proving that his talent and his demeanor are ready to seize the moment.
Talent is a great asset to have, but knowing how to engage and utilize those talents under the sternest of moments—now that’s really talent.
July 1, 2010
The men’s semifinals at Wimbledon is set to take place on Friday. Former champ Rafael Nadal will face Andy Murray, while Novak Djokovic will take on Tomas Berdych.
For the complete order of play for Friday, click the link below.
July 1, 2010
Former Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, and Czech power-hitter Tomas Berdych shared their thoughts on their upcoming semifinal battles at Wimbledon on Friday.
For Berdych, the 24-year-old has enjoyed his best year to date, which has included reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros, and the finals in Miami.
“It’s going to be similar matches as the match against Murray I played in Roland Garros where, you know, we played before like really long time ago, and then the match is completely like we met for the first time,” said Berdych.
“Yeah, I think it’s gonna be really, really tough one. I think we both change a lot. Of course you need to have some confidence to get to the semifinal, so I think it’s going to be really same for both of us. I’m looking forward to that match.”
Reaching his second career Wimbledon semifinal, Djokovic holds a 2-0 career head-to-head lead over Berdych.
“He’s a big server and he has powerful groundstrokes. Obviously, his weapon is his forehand. Plays a lot of flat shots,” said Djokovic.
“So, uhm, he’s played semis of French Open. He’s got some great results in last couple of months. So he’s one of the toughest players to play against I guess lately.
“I’m gonna have to be patient and wait for the chances. Obviously, both of us, we gonna have a great motivation to proceed to the next round and finals. For him, that would be a first finals. For me, third.
“But, still, you know, I would give everything to play finals in Wimbledon.”
Regardless of his performance on Friday, Djokovic will return to the No. 2 ranking on Monday, while Berdych could reach the world No. 7 ranking if he wins the title.
Quotes from Wimbledon.org.
July 1, 2010
After ousting six-time champion Roger Federer from Wimbledon, Czech Tomas Berdych told the assembled media that he thought the Swiss’ post match comments were poor at best.
“Okay. I mean, yeah, maybe you can take it for both ways. You can say that he was unlucky or you can say that maybe the opponent was a little bit better and he just won the big points against him. In his position, then he lost the match,” said Berdych.
“You know, I think, yeah, he’s a great player. I mean, but still, I mean, when I just read some newspapers in the morning, I was not surprised, but, you know, to heard something from him to the way that he’s fine, nothing is bothering him. When we played the last match, I lost. But last time in Wimbledon, I won pretty easily. You know, stuff like that.
“You know, I saw him quite first time from him the reactions like that. So whatever. I’m in different position. I’m just enjoying the win today, and this is just everything behind me.”
June 30, 2010
This year’s Wimbledon semifinal bracket will be without a familiar face for the first time since 2003. Roger Federer’s stunning loss to Tomas Berdych was without question a landmine that left the remaining men in the field with an equal opportunity of taking home the title.
Who would have thought that of the top four seeds, Federer’s name would be inconspicuously absent come Friday? Dropping down to No. 3 in the world when Monday’s new rankings are released, Federer will have an unfamiliar armchair view of this year’s final four.
What are the chances that he’ll even watch?
Berdych’s first Wimbledon semifinal will be followed through a microscope when he faces Novak Djokovic, while 2008 champion Rafael Nadal will go toe-to-toe against top British hopeful Andy Murray.
All credit must be given to the fighting foursome who remain alive in the hunt for the most elusive title the sport has to offer.
Will we see a British male in the finals for the first time since 1936, or will Nadal place himself in prime position for his eighth Slam title?
Will Djokovic salvage his unsatisfactory year, or will Berdych finally dismiss his underachieving label?
The pairings have been made, and now all that remains is a few thoughts on how it may all go down.
Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych
Djokovic leads the pair’s head-to-head series, 2-0.
What we have here is two men that weren’t supposed to make it this far. For Djokovic, his form entering Wimbledon provided little in the way of a resounding result. Dusted early and often throughout the season, Djokovic had battled his technique, coaching changes, and of course mother nature. Suffering nine losses before entering the tournament, Djokovic’s progress to the semifinals is by far his best result of 2010.
Will the new world No. 2 have a enough to blindside the potent arsenal of the new Czech bomber?
The Bird man could be deemed the new Robin Soderling of this season. Reaching the Miami final in March, Berdych advanced to the final four at the French Open, before plowing through the field in London.
Defeating Federer for a second straight time on Wednesday, Berdych solidified himself as a big match player. But will the daunting Czech have enough mental fortitude to advance to his first career Grand Slam final?
Djokovic will undoubtedly hold the experience card between the two. Capturing the 2008 Australian Open, Djokovic has also reached seven other Grand Slam semifinals. Taking out the competent challenge of Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth-round, Djokovic benefited from not facing Andy Roddick, thanks in large part to Yen-Hsun Lu.
We are all well aware of Djokovic’s ability to go AWOL during close matches, but those loses have usually consisted of him being the underdog—excluding his Aussie Open meltdown this year against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
With that being said, one would have to favor Djokovic because of his wherewithal to grind it out. Berdych may have his machine gun groundstrokes ready to paint the lines, but Djokovic’s defensive ability will pay dividends when it gets close.
I’m not totally ruling out Berdych in this contest, for the primary reason that he seems to be finally enjoying himself on Tour. He’s under a calm aura of confidence at the moment, and his game has reaped the rewards.
Once bound to a cold robotic stare, Berdych now embodies the persona and execution of a formidable Grand Slam contender.
All in all, this match will come down to Djokovic’s experience and defense versus Berdych’s power and eagerness.
If recent results have taught us anything, experience—moreso at Wimbledon—usually wins out.
Pick: Djokovic in five sets
Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray
Nadal leads the pair’s head to head series, 7-3.
The bottom half of the draw was filled to the brim when this contest was confirmed. Pitting two of the fan favorites against one other in the marquee match up of the tournament, Nadal and Murray will be the talk of London come Friday.
For Murray, he’s tied his best ever showing at Wimbledon. Losing a close five setter to Roddick last year, Murray has lost only one set en route to the semifinals. The Brit continues to have the weight of Nation’s expectations on his shoulders, but for one reason or another (insert World Cup frenzy here) the pressure has been less this year than before.
We know how much this match means to Murray, and with Federer out of the way, the time couldn’t be better for a title march.
However, Murray does have a determined chap in his way, one who was never taught the meaning of giving anyone an opportunity that they haven’t earned.
Bidding for his second career Euro Slam, Nadal continues to prove that his trials and tribulations of last year are behind him. Dispatching of Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals, Nadal’s knees and focus were spot on against the Swede.
Using his crosscourt forehand and slice serve to great affect, Nadal’s crosscourt backhand will have to improve when he faces Murray.
Again, history and experience will play a big part in this one. Murray has proven that he can defeat Nadal at the hard-court Majors, but he’s come up short on the slower surfaces. Nadal did defeat Murray during their lone Wimbledon match, but Nadal was in untouchable form during his 2008 campaign.
The Spaniard still remains close to his best, and his variety driven game is better suited to grass. Although Murray’s game consists of a great deal of craft and artistry, Nadal’s arsenal holds a better slice and far more topspin.
Nadal will also hold the advantage in the forehand and power department, while Murray’s serve produces slightly more pop.
There’s no doubt that this is a tough one to call, but considering that Nadal has had to battle more than Murray during the event—that’s never a negative for Nadal—the Spaniard will have the confidence in his shots to fall back on.
John Isner and Nicolas Mahut gave us the longest match of the event, but Nadal and Murray could very well partake in the best match of the year.
Settle in, turn off all mobile devices, and get the popcorn ready bright and early.
I’ve gone against Murray in his previous two matches—Murray fans can thank me later—and if that’s an indicator as to what the result of this match is going to be, then I’ll stay with my initial pick before the fortnight began and choose the current world No. 1 and tournament second seed.
Pick: Nadal in five sets
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.