|Posted on March 22, 2014 at 5:25 PM|
Five Questions with Tomas Berdych
By Blair Henley | Saturday, March 22, 2014
Tomas Berdych showed laser-like focus his 7-6(5), 6-1 victory over Stephane Robert in the second round of the Sony Open.
For much of his career, Tomas Berdych played the role of outsider. Despite establishing himself as a legitimate threat to the ATP hierarchy, his icy demeanor on the court alienated potential fans, as did his inconsistency in big matches and an unfortunate on-court episode with Nicolas Almagro in 2012.
Now at 28 years old, Berdych has overcome the bulk of his consistency issues and, perhaps more importantly, he joined Twitter. Rarely has entry into the world of social media done so much for an athlete’s public image. The Czech Republic native has given fans a glimpse inside his life off the court and showcased a decidedly quirky sense of humor (and fashion).
He spoke to Tennis Now following his second round win over Stephane Robert at the Sony Open in Miami, Florida.
After your first-round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut at Indian Wells, you said that everything you touched that day was “bad.” I’m sure recreational players are glad to hear that happens to pros, too. How often would you say you go out on the court and things just aren’t firing for you?
Well, thank God it’s not so often (laughs). With the recreational player, that could happen more of the time, and they probably will not find the reason why. The good thing in my game is that I knew what was wrong. Afterwards I basically look at the plan and the schedule and see what I need to do to solve it. After such a difficult start to the year, I was really mentally and physically tired. He was there, and he was ready. Even then, it was a really close game, but he was the one luckier at the end.
How people handle losses says a lot about them. We’ve seen you break racquets, but we’ve also seen you smile on your way off the court. What determines your reaction after a tough loss?
I think it really depends on the person and the player. You can pick ten guys and everyone is going to do it differently. I think I’m one of the good ones. It doesn’t take so long [to get over a loss]. Of course, it’s the worst thing you want to do in your life is to lose a tennis match. Well, not life (smiling); the tennis life. There is going to be plenty of that, and there are going to be plenty of wins. It’s not a big deal, but you don’t want to lose. You try to look at the match, and you try to learn from that. Just throw it away and start focusing on the present time.
Your ranking has been remarkably consistent in the last four years in the six, seven and eight range. Is there one thing that you can point to that is going to get you securely into the top 5?
I wish (laughing). I really wish to have just one thing that I can say. I don’t think that it’s quite that easy. It’s about so many things that need to click together in a particular tournament, a Slam or an even in the longer period of the season.
With the rules that we have, you have to really play well all year. It’s not like you win a tournament and get to rest for three months (smiling). It doesn’t work like that, but I don’t complain. In the beginning, I was lacking consistency, and I was one of the players who could play a big match and then lose three or four in a row. I managed to change that, which is a big thing for me. My ranking is quite good in the top 10. That’s my baseline, always. That’s what I want to start with and try to improve.
Fans got to see another side of you when you joined Twitter last year. You’re quite entertaining. How would you describe your personality?
Well, whatever you see there, it’s real. No one is behind it, no agency. As you can see, I have a phone in my hand (note: he had just finished tweeting). On court, I’m not the guy that can be laughing or doing funny stuff like, let’s say, Monfils. If it works for them in the game, great. Everyone does what’s best for the style, but I need to be focused and concentrating. I could see that people were bored with that. You cannot talk to the umpire about what kind of music you like (laughing). That’s the thing I’m trying to show them on the social media, and I hope they like it.
You are the son of a train engineer and a doctor. If you weren’t playing tennis, do you think you would follow in their footsteps?
My mom said that if I’m going to go and be a doctor that she would think of all possible ways to stop me in that. I can now see the reason why. That’s just how it is. Train engineer? I don’t know, it’s hard to say. My father is in love with the trains. He just loves it so much. Maybe I would have something else, but I started with tennis when I was little.
Good thing you don’t have to think about that for a while.
Yeah, thank God, no (laughing). Just keep thinking about my forehand and backhand, and hope that they are good!
Follow Blair Henley on Twitter: @blairhenley
Tomas signs autographs for fans in Miami