Rogers Cup: Tomas Berdych Quarterfinal Press Conference

August 14, 2010

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You seemed to be struggling with your serve during the first set tonight and then suddenly turned things around in the second and even in the third set were serving quite well. What adjustments did you make between that first and second set to raise your percentage on serve?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I don’t think it was just any like big adjustments on my serve. I mean, I just ?? I was just keep going, you know. You know, tried to do it every time the same, you know, same thing.
Yeah, that’s how it is, you know, you just start the match and sometimes you don’t feel it right, you don’t feel the right rhythm, and, you know, all of a sudden just, you know, with more and more games, you just getting closer on it, and that’s it.
So I don’t think that I just changed something that I would serve like with more spin or something, so no, it was just, you know, same as beginning.

Q. What do you think in such a tight match, in such a match that could have gone either way, what do you think was the difference tonight?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Oh, well, I mean, the difference was really, really small one, you know. I would say that we both play quite a good tennis today. But just, you know, I mean, just everybody see like, you know, forehand, backhands, whatever.
But I think the part of the game is the luck, as well. And this aspect I was just missing a little bit today, you know. It was little more on his side, and, you know, it was just about one, two points in the tiebreak.

Q. You’re referring to the net cord? I think he hit ?? there was one that just dribbled over I think early in the tiebreak?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, could be the one. We can find couple of more. (Smiling.)
Q. You’ve got some taping on your left knee and thigh area. Can you speak about what you’re dealing with there, and did that play any part at all tonight in hindering you in any way?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No. I mean, everything is fine. I mean, I’m not looking for any excuses, so I’m fine.

Q. Having had the close history, history of close matches with him, and having beaten him the last two times, does this make it easier knowing you can beat him, or does it make it more difficult to take the loss?
TOMAS BERDYCH: You could just see it on the court that we played today against, you know, such a long match. I lost in the tiebreak of the third set, so I don’t think that even with any other opponent you can say it is easier or tougher, so every match is different. That how it was today.
It was different match than we play in Wimbledon, and, yeah, I mean, it was about just couple of points. It was ?? today it was on his side, so yeah, that’s how it is. Maybe if we gonna play tomorrow, it will be completely different match again.

Q. I remember, I think I noted somewhere at 5?4 you were serving, on those deuce points, each time you kept sliding it out wide to Federer’s forehand. Any reason for that? Was that a preferred play, a game plan, something that you had done?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, actually, I mean, I was quite confident for the serve to go wide, you know, and then even if I go ?? or if I went wide, and the serve was not like kind of ace or something like that, then I would say he’s like ?? I mean, he’s like ?? he’s not that strong, I would say, on the forehand return, that side, you know, because from the backhand he can play more options, you know. He can play slice, he can play with a lift, he can just push it up there, just put it in the court.
And from the side you have, you know, more ?? you just have more angles, you know, to serve, you know, just open up the court.
Yeah, I served it, I would say, quite well there but then just make the mistake from the second shot, which is a pretty big mistake, but, yeah, I mean, that’s just how it is.

Q. I know this is a tough loss, and I don’t know what is in your nature. From my own personal opinion, you don’t look too happy. I don’t know, but is it that the crowd actually react to you? You think they were not very friendly?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, definitely not. How can I be happy after the match I lost, and I lost 7?6 in the third when I was serving to close out the match. There is no, any other aspects that I can be sitting here and be just a little bit, you know, happy.
So you are right, that I’m really sad after the match like that. You know, just I think that’s the worst thing, you know. I don’t ?? I hate losing any other matches, not even if you lose 7?6 in the fourth, if you just lost 6?1, 6?1, I hate it, so just need take some time and then just go again for the next matches.

Q. Are you satisfied with quarterfinal in this tournament, or were you hoping for something more?
TOMAS BERDYCH: Actually, I’m not the one like who’s going to come for tournament, just see the draw and say, Well, I want to go semis. I’m kind of player that, you know, just want to play my best every match I go on court, try to win it.
And what happen is just gonna happen. You know, I’m really sad that I lost today, and yeah, of course, I mean, the quarterfinal is ?? it’s all right result for me that, you know, I beat all those guys who are, you know, just a little bit behind me just, you know, to like defend my position, but this match is ?? well, yeah, I’m sad from that and just take some time, you know, to get ready again.

Q. What did you think of the crowd? Did they annoy you? Did they affect, you know, the tiebreaker at the end?
TOMAS BERDYCH: No, I mean, it’s ?? it’s all right. I’m happy that so many people just come to see, and they were enjoying, so just let them enjoying, and that’s it.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Rogers Cup: Federer Fights Past Berdych to Reach Semifinals

August 13, 2010

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after winning his match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto August 13 , 2010.  REUTERS/ Mike Cassese  (CANADA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Rogers Cup—Toronto, Canada

No. 3 seed Roger Federer staved off elimination from a determined Tomas Berdych on Friday evening to advance to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup.

Needing two hours and 41 minutes to advance, Federer came back from a 5-2 deficit in the third set to prevail, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5).

Berdych, who played the big points exceeding well throughout the three set epic, saved 10 of 12 break points against his serve. With both men hitting eight aces on the night, Federer gained his lone break of serve in the 10th game of the final set.

Leading 4-0 in the final set tiebreak, Federer would benefit from a Berdych unforced error on match point to advance. Losing to his Czech opponent at Wimbledon and the Miami Masters earlier this year, Federer was relieved by his come-from-behind victory.

“At the beginning of the year, these were the kind of matches I was losing,” said the two-time Rogers Cup champ.

“It’s good to get a win over a player who has defeated me twice in a row.”

Reaching his second Masters 1000 semifinal of the year, Federer will next face either No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic or Jeremy Chardy for a place in the finals.

Rogers Cup: Finding the Fight; Moving Like a Player; Sod-Off

August 12, 2010

Roger Federer of Switzerland serves against Michael Llodra of France during their match at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto August 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Cassese  (CANADA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Rogers Cup—Toronto, Canada

It can certainly become a difficult proposition for a player to get geared up for a long and hazy day of Center Court action in Toronto when your name is Roger Federer.

Called upon to highlight the day session, Federer would face the precocious and unorthodox game of Michael Llodra. Losing his opening service game in immediate fashion, Federer would fall behind 4-1 before mounting his comeback. Finding very little rhythm against the edging game of the Frenchman, Federer would own the first set tiebreak after encountering a sub par start.

While observing Federer going through the motions to start the match, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking.

Was he really worried that he would lose the match? Was he really concerned with Llodra’s level or play—or, was his mindset preoccupied with justifying his salmon pink shirt?

Answering the last question first, Federer would pound a service winner to lead 6-2 in the tiebreaker after a women in the stands calmly remarked: “Roger, you look stunning in pink.”

With his metrosexual connotations in check, Federer would prove (with some convincing) that he still does cares about winning.

After engaging in a long baseline exchange to start set two, Federer was brought to the net by Llodra only to be lobbed on the following shot. Racing back to execute a sky-lob recovery, Federer would fail on his attempt to keep the point going, but his effort and determined facial grimace couldn’t be questioned.

When asked during his post match presser if he still has fun when he practices, Federer had this to say:

“I like this game, you know.”

Well, the refined and soft spoken demeanor of the Swiss is often tough to read, but his ability to progress through the early rounds of events still remains intact.

Referring to the sport as “not having the versatility that it once did,” Federer encountered a “first” in his match against Llodra.

Losing by a landslide in the second set, the flamboyant Frenchman struck an underhand serve at 1-4 down on the deuce side. The look on Federer’s face when he shanked his forehand long off of his opponent’s 87 KPM serve was priceless. He knew it was perhaps the worst miss of his life, but he found immediate solace by breaking Llodra’s serve to lead 5-1.

I guess we’re in a new era for the mighty Federer. An era where underhand serves are tough to return; pink shirts are all the rage; and the joy of competing still remains the most important part of his tennis.

We’ll see how much fun Federer has tomorrow against Tomas Berdych. The man who defeated him at Wimbledon.

Speaking of the much improved Czech, he dodged a major bullet in Alexandr Dolgopolov today. Capturing the first set in comfortable form, Berdych fell victim to the quick-fire serving of his opponent during the second set. Receiving a medical timeout on his right thigh muscle before leveling the match at a set apiece, Berdych appeared in danger of exiting the event prematurely.

I’ve wrote extensively about Dologopolov throughout this week, and there’s certainly a lot to praise about the 21-year-old. Dolgopolov’s serve is almost impossible to read; his variety and placement is further exemplified by not giving his opponent enough reaction time to anticipate its direction. If the youngster can get stronger and deal with the heat of the North American hard-court season, then there’s no reason why he won’t find himself in the top 15 before the end of the year.

By contrast, Berdych has to be given credit for completely turning around his court coverage. Once known as slow and steady, Berdych can now race from sideline to sideline and snap a forehand winner off with regularity.

The Wimbledon finalist has also improved his volleying, and although he won’t serve and volley just yet, his transitioning from the baseline to the forecourt is beginning to take shape.

Staying on serve throughout nine games of the third set, Berdych would finally get his chance at victory by receiving a sloppy game from his opponent. After the stellar serving which Dolgopolov showcased throughout the second-set tiebreak, the unseeded Ukrainian donated a double fault on match point to end his tournament.

There was simply no way Berdych would have won this match two years ago, considering his mental frailty. Props to the big man for getting it done by any means necessary.

***

Robin Soderling simply met the wrong man on the other side of the net today. Facing inform Argentine David Nalbandian, Soderling was cast aside and joined the list of the 11 straight players to feel the wrath of the former top 10 player.

Winning the first set on the strength of his booming serve, Soderling struck eight aces and won nearly 80 percent of his first serve points. Losing his momentum to begin the second set, Soderling would quickly fall behind 3-1. Nalbandian’s counter-punching returns began to clean the base and sidelines, while his own delivery was picking up in speed. Leveling the match at one set all, Nalbandian would open up his shoulders and unleash his two-handed backhand.

Racing through the final set to the tune of three breaks of serve, Nalbandian improved to 5-1 against his Swedish opponent, while reaching his second Masters quarterfinal of the year.

Nalbandian will likely next face defending champ Andy Murray, who is currently rolling through the third set against Gael Monfils.

If thoughtful and crafty baseline tennis is your thing, then make sure you leave sometime aside on Friday for that one.

With Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still on the docket, day four action at the Rexall Center is far from complete.

Talk soon.

Nima

Alarm Clocks, Double D’s, and a Little Off the Rise

August 10, 2010

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 10: David Nalbandian of Argentina adjusts his racquet between points against David Ferrer of Spain during the Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre on August 10, 2010 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Day two action at the Rogers Cup began, continued, and currently remains the hottest day of the week thus far.

With on-court temperatures soaring towards 42 °C, the ATP boys appeared to lose a little mental clarity. While Tomas Berdych made sure that his early wake up call was in check, David Ferrer couldn’t help but rip his shirt in frustration after losing a sizable lead against David Nalbandian. Alexandr Dolgopolov began to cramp, shake, and lose his momentum, only to find his way to the net and defeat Philipp Petzschner in a third set ‘breaker.

Today was definitely hot; unless you spend your summers in Dubai, but there was no mistaking that the conditions altered the opinions of some players.

Rise And Shine, Tomas

After his ungrateful, and perhaps regretful departure from the Washington event last week, Tomas Berdych was once again called upon to open up Center Court at a major event.

Losing in three tight sets to Xavier Malisse in D.C., Berdych later told the assembled media that he “probably” would not return to the event next year because he shouldn’t have been given an early start time. Well, the Toronto Masters is a slightly bigger event, and the tournament committee certainly didn’t have Tomas’ sleeping habits in mind when making the schedule.

Berdych did have an opportunity to get accustomed to the early Toronto mornings by ringing in the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. I wonder if the big man put in a request for the markets to begin an hour later in order for him to catch a little more shut-eye? We may never know.

Nevertheless, Berdych was in ominous form today against Sergiy Stakhovsky, the man who routed Richard Gasquet on Monday.

The Next Agassi?

Making my way to the outer reaches of the facility, I was eager to watch young Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Dolgopolov on a several occasions, but I’ve never seen him whack the ball in person. I caught a glimpse of the youngster warming up for the event with countryman Stakhovsky on Saturday, but his match against Philipp Petzscher today would be the first time I’ve seen him in match play.

Arriving at the contest at 4-all in third set, my previous thoughts of Dolgopolov were confirmed in 3D. His ultra talented array of shots had reminded me of a young Andre Agassi. There’s no question that Dolgopolov moves better than Agassi ever did, but his off-the-rise ability was very reminiscent of the former American player.

Dolgopolov’s low ball toss is extremely difficult to read, and his slice backhand loses gravity a touch faster than it’s supposed to.

Suffering from heat exhaustion, Dolgopolov made the clever tactical choice to approach the net and conserve any energy that he had left. Leading 6-4 in the final set tiebreak, Dolgopolov benefited from a final Petzschner double fault to advance to the second-round. Slicking his hair back while removing his socceresque headband, Dolgopolov was overlooked at the net by a handshake from Petzschner. Apparently (and this came from Dolgopolov’s agent), Petzschner was upset because he was under the impression that his opponent would retire before the match was competed.

Feeling slightly ill before taking the court, Dolgopolov discussed his opponent’s behavior after the match: “It’s his problem. I’m not angry about it. [It] happens.”

Spoken like a true veteran.

If Dolgopolov continues to improve and get fitter, then we could have another “Agassi-type” player on our hands.

For those of you who saw Dolgopolov’s match against Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Masters, you’re well-versed in what the youngster can do. For those you how haven’t seen Dolgopolov in person, or on TV, I can assure you that it will only be a matter of time.

D-Squared

I had my own reservations going into today’s all-David battle on Center Court. Would David Nalbandian recover from winning his first title in over a year, or, would the former world No. 3 player fade with the humidity of Toronto, and look forward to a deep charge in Cincinnati?

On a vastly different note, I was certain that a rested David Ferrer would come out guns blazing.

Well, I would leave the all-David match with a sense of security that I was right with my pre-match thoughts, but I was indeed surprised with the winner of the contest.

With both players sweating before the first ball was struck, Ferrer would strike first by breaking serve to lead 3-1. The diminutive Spaniard would immediately lose his serve in the ensuing game, while also squandering a set point at 4-5, 30-40.

Hitting a delicious backhand up the line winner at 6-5, 30-15, Nalbandian would finish off the first set by placing an out-wide serve in the corner, before lacing an inside out forehand winner.

Nalbandian’s adrenaline would take a back seat in the second set, while Ferrer’s tenacious demeanor would take over. Leading 5-2, Ferrer would produce an on-the-run forehand winner to tie the match at a set a piece.

Continuing his momentum at the beginning of the third set, Ferrer would break Nalbandian to lead 2-0. The success that Nalbandian achieved last week in Washington was beginning to catch up with him, and a sign of the Argentine’s drop in form was illustrated by a country club level volley that he missed into net.

However, in true Nalbandian fashion, his experience would race to the rescue and break Ferrer in the ensuing game. Finding himself on serve, Nalbandian would engage in his court craft to further frustrate his Spanish opponent. Losing three straight games to trail 3-2, Ferrer would essentially check out of the match by ripping his shirt in disgust.

Capturing his sixth straight win on Tour, Nalbandian could become the No. 1 dark-horse story heading into the US Open.

The Argentine will next face Tommy Robredo, with Swede Robin Soderling on the horizon.

I’m off to catch a little bit of the Roger Federer match, while trying to enjoy some dinner in the process.

Talk soon.

Berdych to Ring in Toronto Stock Exchange

August 8, 2010

Press Release

In recognition of the new presenting sponsorship of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Toronto, world No. 8 Tomas Berdych will join Tennis Canada and National Bank Financial to open trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday.

Berdych Upset with D.C. Officials After Loss

August 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 06: Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic serves against Xavier Malisse of Belgium during their quarterfinal match on day 5 of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on August 6, 2010 in Washington, DC. Malisse won the match 6-4,3-6,6-2. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Top seed Tomas Berdych was visibly upset after losing in quarterfinals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic to Xavier Malisse of Belgium on Friday.

After his loss to Malisse, the Associated Press reported that Berdych told the assembled media that he may not return to the event next year.

“I was feeling like I was still sleeping,” said Berdych, who was forced to play the day’s first match.

“Maybe I’m not going to come next year,” said the Czech. “If you like the tournament, if you like the place, then you always want to come back. But if you get an experience like that, we will see.”

Berdych, who recently reached the Wimbledon final, will now travel to Toronto to take part in the Rogers Cup. The powerful Czech will be the No. 7 seed in Toronto.

Rogers Cup: Draw Preview and Analysis

August 7, 2010

July 16, 2010 - Bastad, Sk  ne, Sweden - epa02250428 Sweden's Robin Soderling reacts after defeating Italy's Andreas Seppi in 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 in the quarter finals of the Swedish Open tennis tournament in Bastad, Sweden, on 16 July 2010.

The race for the No. 1 ranking on the ATP World Tour will once again heat up at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. The assembled media, and the world for that matter, tuned in earlier on Friday to witness the official draw ceremony from the CN Tower. Rafael Nadal was on hand to aid with the placement of each competitor in the draw, and ironically the Spaniard provided the tournament the opportunity for a potential showdown with his arch-rival Roger Federer.

Although Federer is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, the Swiss star has enjoyed great success in Canada, which has been highlighted by winning two titles and one finals appearance. The 16-time Major winner has always excelled on the hard-courts of North America, and he will once again be adamant on pulling in a strong performance to begin his US Open Series campaign.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic and defending champ Andy Murray will lead the way in the bottom half of the draw. Djokovic, who arrived in Toronto on Wednesday, has kept his on-court practice sessions intense, while using the on-site fitness facilities to the fullest. The Serb has a quiet aura of confidence around him at the moment, and although his season hasn’t been up to his standard thus far, he may just be in line for another Masters 1000 title by week’s end.

Andy Roddick encountered another setback last week in Washington, but the 2003 champ will always be considered a dangerous contender on hard-courts. Roddick has alluded to feeling under the weather for several weeks now, and that will be a story to follow throughout the event. Roddick does have the luxury of playing some of the best tennis of his career at Indian Wells and Miami during the spring, and if he’s able to replicate that type of form in Toronto, he’ll certainly have a great shot at reaching the weekend.

There will be four local favorites to root for in Toronto this year, led by Canada’s top-ranked player Peter Polansky. Polansky made the second-round in Montreal last year, and held a set point against Djokovic before bowing out in straight sets. Polansky has already put in a tremendous amount of practice this week at the Rexall Center—training with Arnaud Clement on Thursday, and sparring with Federer on Center Court earlier on Friday. Polansky will face No. 13 seed Jurgen Melzer in the first-round.

Canada’s second-ranked player, Frank Dancevic could set up an intriguing second-round match with Nadal, but he will first have to fend off talented Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka in his opening hurdle. Dancevic returned to action earlier this year after suffering a back injury, but recently ran into a scoreboard while playing in Atlanta.

Milos Raonic and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos will round out the Canadian representation in the field.

With a brief overview of the 56-man draw complete, let’s now take a look at the top four seeds, and their respective roads to the semifinals.

Nadal Quarter:

After fulfilling his draw ceremony commitments at the CN Tower, and later being flown back to the Rexall Center by a private helicopter for a 6 p.m. practice session, Nadal took to the courts for a late night hit with German Michael Berrer. On a first glace, I noticed a much calmer Nadal than I had seen on the same court in 2008. Although his forehand cross-court caught the top of the tape on one too many occasions, his overall court presence showcased a player who was comfortable with his surroundings. Even his camp, led by intern coach Francisco Roig, were seen joking and enjoying the crisp Canadian air. Except for a few grimaces of disbelief by Berrer after being bludgeoned by Nadal’s backhand at the net, an eventful day for the world’s top player went over just as planned.

The Spaniard’s quarter of the draw does hold a few troublesome opponents before the semifinals. As mentioned, Wawrinka could be up in the second-round, with recent Los Angeles champ Sam Querrey a potential round of 16 opponent. Querrey has shown guts and glory at the ATP 250 point level, but has yet to show what he’s made of at the bigger events. Needless to say, a win over Nadal in the third-round would be quite the achievement. Roddick and Marin Cilic remain the highest seeds in the quarter after Nadal, but have both shown frailty in recent months. Cilic hasn’t reached the finals of an event since May, and Roddick recently admitted that he’s “losing a degree of motivation to compete.”

I’d say that Cilic could give Nadal his hardest match in this quarter, considering the beating that he put on the Spaniard in China last fall. That was a different Nadal, though, and Cilic is nowhere near as confident at the moment.

Nadal has already exceeded his own expectations by capturing two Grand Slam titles this year. But, if we know anything about Nadal, it’s that he plays well when he’s under pressure, and even better when he’s in his comfort zone.

I saw that comfort zone against Berrer on center court, and it’s going to be hard for anyone to stop that this week.

Pick: Nadal

Djokovic Quarter:

The recent world No. 2 returns to Toronto in search of his hard-court arsenal. Djokovic appears injury-free at the moment, but a tricky draw will provide more than a few obstacles before the semifinals.

Beginning his campaign against either Julien Benneteau or a qualifier, Djokovic could meet No. 13 seed Melzer in the third-round. Melzer, who reached the semifinals at Roland Garros earlier this year, has proven that his penetrating backhand remains a formidable weapon on the asphalt.

No. 6 seed Nikolay Davydenko also lurks in this section, but the Russian hasn’t been himself since encountering a wrist injury in March. Having lost before the third-round of every event that he’s played since, Davydenko—surprisingly—comes into Toronto as a wildcard pick. Davydenko can still rip the ball with the best of them, but he’s lost that “video game” level that he held at the beginning of the year.

Two other standout names in this section are No. 9 seed Fernando Verdasco, and Cypriot Marcos Baghdaits. Both players hold the right tools to excel on a quick hard-court, with Baghdaits possessing a much flatter game. Baghdatis defeated Verdasco in Washington last week, and the pair could face off in the third-round again.

Baghdatis has shown me enough this year to pencil him in as one of the surprise semifinalists in the event. He will have to prove, though, that his fitness can survive two grueling events in a row.

Although Djokovic will team up with Nadal in the doubles draw, I’m just not convinced that his serve will hold up through five singles matches.

Pick: Baghdatis

Federer Quarter:

Does it really matter at this point what Federer is seeded at an event? Capturing a boat worth of titles throughout his career, while raking in millions of dollars in prize money, Federer rides into Toronto on a lull in form. Losing in both the quarterfinals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Federer was granted a relatively easy quarter in his quest for a third title.

Beginning his road to the semifinals against either Alejandro Falla or Juan Ignacio Chela, Federer could face in-form Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the round of 16.

Almagro began his post-Wimbledon campaign by winning clay titles in Bastad and Gstaad. Possessing a devastating one-handed backhand, Almagro has the necessary skill set to add his name to the unlikely list of players to defeat Federer this season.

Apart from a potential scare against Almagro, Federer will have an opportunity to gain some revenge over Tomas Berdych.

Berdych, who defeated Federer at Wimbledon and Miami this year, has enjoyed a banner season which has included reaching the finals of his maiden Slam in London, and advancing to the semifinals of the French Open. The tall Czech has a tremendous game for hard-courts, and continues to bring forth the confidence that he belongs at the top of the sport.

It would really be a tremendous feat for Berdych if he could defeat Federer on three straight occasions—regardless of Federer’s recent form—while continuing his march up the rankings. Federer has certainly been a fraction of the player that he was at the start of the season, and a win in Toronto would help to restore order.

Will Federer be able to dig deep and jump back into the spotlight that Nadal and Djokovic have occupied at the moment? Is that really his concern at this point in his career, considering his mantle of glistening hardware? Whatever the case, Federer continues to play this game because he believes that he can win; a trait that does not vanish because of a few losses.

However, the locker room buzz around the former No. 1 has began to hit a lower pitch of fear. Berdych knows what it takes to defeat Federer on the grandest stage the sport has to offer, and the likelihood of it happening can’t be taken for granted.

Pick: Berdych

Murray Quarter:

The defending champ was dealt perhaps the toughest draw of the top four seeds. Entering Toronto without a title in 2010, Murray could face either Xavier Malisse, Fernando Gonzalez, Feliciano Lopez, or Gael Monfils before the quarterfinals.

While Malisse has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts, Gonzalez, Lopez and Monfils have played some of their best tennis on hard-courts this season. Gonzalez will be making his return to action after suffering a knee injury at the French Open, while Monfils will return to the circuit after sustaining an ankle injury in Stuttgart. The explosive strokes of Gonzalez and Monfils will adapt nicely to the slick courts in Toronto, and both players will take confidence in recording previous Tour wins over Murray.

The path to the final four could continue to grow in difficulty for Murray, who could face either No. 5 seed Robin Soderling, No. 10 seed David Ferrer, David Nalbandian, or Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals.

Soderling has been MIA since Wimbledon, but the heavy-hitting Swede can never be taken lightly. Soderling possesses the thunderous weapons to blow anyone off court, but the fast paced surface of the summer season could expose his elaborate backswings. Soderling will remain a huge threat throughout the remainder of this season, but his march through Toronto could end due to late timing.

Nalbandian and Ferrer will lock horns in the most anticipated first-round match of the event, but watch for Nalbandian to come in fatigued after his successful week in Washington.

Although Murray will be on a mission to defend his Canadian crown, one has to think that his year of disappoint won’t turn around that easy.

Soderling, though, has taken a year filled with expectation, and turned it into ongoing success. The Swede isn’t interested in winning any popularity contests, but he wouldn’t mind claiming a Masters 1000 title to go along with his two Grand Slam finishes.

Pick: Soderling

Semifinals: Nadal vs. Soderling; Berdych vs. Baghdatis

Finals: Nadal vs. Berdych

Champion: Nadal

Berdych Upset in Washington; Cilic Reaches Semifinals

August 7, 2010

Legg Mason Tennis Classic—Washington, D.C.

Quarterfinal results:

Xavier Malisse d. No. 1 seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 6-2; No. 8 seed Marcos Baghdatis d. No. 3 seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6(3), 6-4; No. 4 seed Marin Cilic d. Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(4), 6-4, and David Nalbandian d. No. 13 Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Roddick Falls in Washington; Berdych Advances to Quarterfinals

August 6, 2010

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 03: Andy Roddick of the USA dries off against Grega Zemlja of Slovenia during day 2 of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center on August 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Legg Mason Tennis Classic—Washington, D.C.

No. 2 seed Andy Roddick suffered another shocking loss on Thursday at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.

Losing 6-3, 6-3 to Frenchman Gilles Simon, Roddick failed to reach the quarterfinals in Washington for only the second time in nine appearances.

Simon, who won 91 percent of his first serve points, claimed the biggest win of his season, while reaching his second quarterfinal of 2010.

Roddick’s loss will cause him to fall out of the top 10 for the first time since August of 2008. The American hasn’t reached a final since winning the Miami event in March. Roddick will now travel to Toronto to take part in the Rogers Cup.

Elsewhere, No. 1 seed Tomas Berdych defeated recent Hamburg champ Andrey Golubev 6-3, 5-7, 7-5; No. 3 seed Fernando Verdasco dismissed Ryan Sweeting 6-4, 7-5; Xavier Malisse upset John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5); Marcos Baghdatis moved past Illya Marchenko 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, and David Nalbandian blasted through Marco Chiudinelli 6-1, 6-0.

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).

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