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 Wimbledon.org.

W: Order of Play for Sunday July 4, 2010—Men’s Final

July 3, 2010

Sunday’s order of play at Wimbledon will feature the men’s final between Rafael Nadal vs. Tomas Berdych. Aiming to capture his second Wimbledon title, Nadal will face first-time Slam finalist Berdych. Berdych has been in resounding form throughout the fortnight, taking out Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic en route.

For the complete order of play for Sunday, click the link below.

Order of Play for Sunday July 4, 2010.

Wimbledon Finals: Nadal vs. Berdych

July 3, 2010

July 02, 2010 - Wimbledon, United Kingdom - epa02233393 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic reacts during his semi final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia for the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 02 July 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.

Wimbledon 2010: Men’s Final Preview

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.

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

Wimbledon 2010 Issue 12: July 3

July 3, 2010

LONDON, July 1, 2010 Vera Zvonareva of Russia celebrates after winning her semifinal of ladies' singles against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in the 2010 Wimbledon Championships in London, Britain, July 1, 2010. Zvonareva won 2-1.

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.

W: Tomas Berdych Semifinal Press Conference

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.

Wimbledon Day 12 Blog: Proving that Talent Matters

July 2, 2010

July 01, 2010 - 06113620 date 30 06 2010 Copyright imago BPI Tomas Berdych of The Czech Republic PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Tennis men All England Championships ATP Tour London Wimbledon Action shot Single Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd Tennis.

Wimbledon—London, England

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.

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