Official Website Wimbledon | by Sarah Edworthy
After losing to a qualifier in the first round of the French Open last month, Tomas Berdych was delighted to be back to Grand Slam winning ways on the grass of SW19, beating the Italian Filippo Volandri, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
If he is to hit his way with power and accuracy through six matches to the final, as he did so stealthily last year, he certainly conserved energy in this match, despatching his opponent in three clinical sets with the loss of just five games.
"I am quite happy with my performance and I enjoyed that," he said afterwards. "It is such a nice court for my first match. A good start on the grass inspires me. I'm looking forward to my next match. It is a long way to a final so I want to go step by step, but I find some kind of confidence in this place."
His Italian opponent, a clay court specialist making his first Wimbledon appearance since 2008 (he didn't attempt to qualify in 2009 or 2010), lists thrillers and action movies among his favourite off-court distractions. Alas, he was not to find himself starring in that sort of edge-of-the-seat drama on No.1 Court today.
In fact, in between the second and third sets, Volandri was lying prostrate on a towel while a physio pummelled his lower back and the camera lingered on a couple fast asleep in the crowd.
Berdych may be an understated personality and an unshowy performer but he is a tough opponent who, using his serve as foundation, showed how he can win with ease on grass. The sixth seed began and ended his match-winning service game with an ace.
The Czech was a surprise finalist at Wimbledon last year, thanks to stunning victories over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He completed the year with a first Top 10 finish in his career (courtesy also of being a finalist in Miami where he took the scalps of Federer and Robin Soderling). However, whilst maintaining a Top 10 status, Berdych has not done anything truly spectacular since.
To date this year, he has lost in the quarter-finals in the Australian Open, reached the semi-finals in Dubai but retired injured, suffered a third-round exit at the ATP World Tour Masters at Indian Wells, was a quarter-finalist in Madrid and Rome, a semi-finalist in Nice and was then the shock loser in the first round at Roland Garros.
But this was an emphatic start to his Wimbledon campaign.