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Analysis: Berdych's big weapons

Posted on July 1, 2010 at 9:59 PM








From Official website Wimbledon


Match focus: Djokovic v Berdych


Thursday, 1 July 2010


Tomas Berdych has enjoyed a fantastic season so his run to the semi-finals here is no great surprise. After all, if his big-hitting game can prove effective on the clay courts of Roland Garros, it was always going to be even more potent here at Wimbledon.


Grass, more than any other surface, rewards big serving and Berdych has posted better numbers than any of the four remaining semi-finalists in that regard.


He has hit 87 aces, averaging almost 18 per match. His fastest serve was hit at 138mph and he's won 297 of the 349 points he has played so far in the Championships when his first serve has gone in, which equates to 85%.


And one of the main reasons he has been so effective when stepping up to the line is that he has really good control of the ball toss so is able to direct his serve to both corners of the service box without changing the placement of the toss. From an opponent's perspective, that means it is extremely difficult to read.


In short, the potency of his first serve has been the cornerstone of all of his victories.


But this is where his match-up with Novak Djokovic should prove fascinating viewing - as the third seed has one of the best returns in the game.


Taking all of the matches played in the tournament so far into account, he is currently second in regard to points won when returning opponents' first serves and fourth when he gets a look at a second serve.


He is also second overall, behind Rafael Nadal, in regard to break points won, proving he has also been right on the money when opportunities arise to get those vital breaks of serve.


So that will prove to be one of the major battles within the overall war, and it is one which Djokovic won resoundingly last time they met in Miami in 2009.


On that day, Berdych was beaten 6-3, 6-2 and Djokovic won 52% of the return points, compared to his opponent's relatively paltry 30%.


Djokovic won 45% of points when returning first serves (compared with 17% for Berdych) and 62% when he got a look at the second (compared with 45%) and all of that meant he broke serve five times whilst only surrendering his deal once.


Djokovic also has experience on his side, having played in six Grand Slam semi-finals. This will be Berdych's second such encounter, after losing to Robin Soderling in the last four in Paris three weeks ago.


However, Berdych now appears to be enjoying the process of competing in his matches rather than just concerning himself with the end result, and that seems to have allowed him to handle pressure much better than he ever has in the past.


If he can serve as well as he has so far in the Championships, and hold his nerve, Sunday's final will surely beckon.






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