Tomas Berdych a.k.a. The Birdman - A Fan Site 2004-2017

Tomas Berdych The Czech Teen-Ager





Tomas Berdych 2005


THE CZECH TEEN-AGER

Legg Mason Washington 2005

On Wednesday evening on an outside court, teen-aged Czech player Tomas Berdych faced veteran Aussie Wayne Arthurs. Berdych at 19 is an obvious rising talent, a heavy server and ground-stroker, listed at 6-4 and 196 pounds. Tomas penetrated the top hundred last year and ranked #36 in the running 12-month standings when Legg Mason started. He arrived here directly from clay events in Europe. Arthurs played against him intelligently, moving his spinning left-handed serves around the service box very well, especially effectively wide, and coming to net regularly when serving. When in back-court Wayne gave Berdych a varied diet of spins, pace, and placement. The teen-ager's winning points mainly came from his potent serving and from pressing Arthurs with heavy ground strokes to the sides. Berdych also showed some fine control off very short, low balls. The outcome remained uncertain--indeed Arthurs seemed the more comfortable in holding his service games--but at the end it was Berdych the winner in three sets. It looked as if Arthurs's three double-faults in the final service break stemmed from Wayne's concern to stay away from Berdych's serve-returning power zones.

Berdych rather similarly dispatched Grosjean, showing excellent power and control to the corners in winning a close first set. Grosjean broke serve early in set two, and thereafter the French player's game seemed to soften, probably because of the heat. The still-strong teen-ager closed out matters convincingly. Then on Friday, Tomas advanced by winning two tiebreak sets over American Bobby Reynolds. Reynolds, 23, is a nice competitor--excellent in his court mobility, able to drive consistently in extended points, and able to summon fairly good pace in his serving and stroking. Berdych again played with little variety, content to plaster his first serves and forehands and achieve consistency in his two-handed backhand hitting. There was one stretch where the Berdych backhand regularly found the net, especially against off-pace shots. But for most of the going the only question was whether Berdych could keep his superior power in court. Reynolds seldom threatened at net, and Berdych came forward only to finish off floaters or when invited by plop shots (soft, low, shortish returns firmer than drop shots).

Berdych is the player who defeated Federer in the 2004 Olympics. How high will he reach? He's presently close to Safin when Marat was a similar basher at 19. He seems to have good temperament on court except for a propensity to complain about calls. The outlook for his future dimmed only a little in losing Saturday's semi-final against James Blake--surely the moral winner of the tournament, to be discussed later.