Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tomas Berdych Has Grown Up

Of the two men's semi-finals I watched during Wimbledon 2010, I enjoyed Tomas Berdych v/s Novak Djokovic. This match had it all. Don't let the score board of 6-3, 7-6 (11/9), 6-3 fool you into believing that this was a completely one-sided match. Djokovic fought till the end, but was no match to the finesse of Berdych. I always like to view matches where there is a lot of variety. Nadal v/s Murray was bit boring to watch on this count and it was quite simply a baseline slug fest where one would keep hitting shots, the other would just keep retrieving. But Berdych-Djokovic match had drama. It had fine shot-making too.

Tomas Berdych is a talented player. I remember watching him in the finals of the Mumbai Kingfisher Open a few years back (September 2006) where he narrowly lost to Russian Dimitry Tursunov in three close sets. Ever since while Berdych has moved up, slowly but gradually, Tursunov seems to have disappeared. Berdych is such a player that on a good day he could beat anyone. He came close to beating Roger Federer at the 2009 Australian Open but lost in five. At this year's Wimbledon, Federer wasn't so lucky. Having going through a career slump himself, it didn't help him that he ran into super-confident Berdych who I am sure- like many other men's tennis players- now think they can beat Roger Federer anytime and on any day.

Yesterday, Berdych was in full form. His serve and forehands were the two weapons responsible for getting him to the Finals. The court coverage was phenomenal and both players, especially Djokovic, scrambled all the court to retrieve. Berdych's height 6"5 makes him a formidable server; he served 11 aces in the match,as against Djokovic's nine. But Berdych's biggest fears rest in his mind. He was up 6 points to 2 in the tie break and he allowed Djokovic to fight back and save all those set points and another two before saving two himself, eventually winning the set when Djokovic gifted him a double fault of his own. Berdych covered the court well and hit shots with pin point accuracy. His lethal forehand also drove Djokovic far off wide the court, only to sweep in to the net to put the volley away.

This is the game that he needs to beat Nadal on Sunday. But Berdych would do well to remember that he's about to play one of the toughest competitors of tennis in Sunday's final. Unless he truly believes in the heart that he can beat Nadal, he would have lost the match before he even steps on to the court.

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