|Posted on June 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM|
DAVIS CUP site | 08 June 2010
Berdych shows clay court class
Tomas Berdych narrowly lost in the semifinals at last week’s Roland Garros, his best Grand Slam performance to date, but he won’t be packing away his clay court shoes for the year just yet.
Following the British grass court season, which culminates at Wimbledon, Berdych will turn his attention to representing his country, as Czech Republic travels to Chile for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinals from 9-11 July.
“It’s going to be a really tough one,” said Berdych. “I hope everything is going to be nice and fine in Chile. I’m going to be first time there so I want to enjoy it.”
The two nations have only met once before, way back in 1967. On that occasion, in Prague, Chile defeated the Czechs 3-2, sealing victory with a five-set win in the deciding fifth rubber.
This tie promises to be just as close, as the experienced Chilean duo of Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu are expected to take on Czech Republic’s top two performers, Berdych and Radek Stepanek.
Chile, however, will benefit from playing on home soil, or clay, to be specific. The selected venue is the appropriately named Enjoy Tennis Center in Coquimbo, which also hosted Chile’s first round triumph over Israel.
Chile has an imposing Davis Cup record at home, having lost just once since 1996. This impressive run that has yielded 14 wins from 15 ties, leaving Berdych fully aware of the size of the task that lies ahead.
“I think the advantage is going to be on their side because always when you play at home – and especially in Chile, I heard – the crowd is going to really helping them a lot.
“That’s how it is. That’s Davis Cup, the advantage of the home crowd. We have to deal with it, try our best and fight with the situation.”
Berdych and Stepanek have formed a formidable partnership in recent years. The pair led Czech Republic to the Final last year and, despite being whitewashed by Spain in Barcelona, Berdych believes the experience has made the team stronger.
“The year 2009 was really good, until the last one but it was really tough. It gives you the confidence, but it gives you a little bit more pressure, especially in the first round with everybody expecting you to win.”
The pressure obviously wasn’t too much of a burden for the Czechs in the first round, as Belgium was routinely swept aside in Bree. Berdych and Stepanek wrapped up proceedings inside two days, winning the opening singles rubbers before successfully teaming up in the doubles.
Which team will rise above the pressure in Coquimbo? It's a tight call. What's for sure, however, is that the winner of this finely poised tie will earn a place in the semifinals against either Croatia or Serbia.
Click the link below to listen to Craig Gabriel’s full interview with Tomas Berdych…