|Posted on September 2, 2014 at 9:30 PM|
Berdych returns to US Open quarters
By Richard Osborn (official website USO)
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
WHAT HAPPENED: No. 6-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych is back into the US Open quarterfinals for the second time in three years, scoring a convincing 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory on Tuesday night over unseeded 20-year-old Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Inexperience showed early as Thiem — a day shy of his 21st birthday and the youngest man in the Top 50 — was zero-for-seven in break-point opportunities in the opening set, while Berdych was a perfect two-for-two.
Thiem, the son of tennis coaches, struggled to gain any traction against his No. 7-ranked opponent, as Berdych would secure another pair of unanswered breaks to take the second set in commanding fashion.
Thiem is no stranger to comebacks. He had overcome a two-sets-to-love deficit against his pal/practice partner Ernests Gulbis in the second round. But a comeback against the 2010 Wimbledon finalist on Day 9 was too much to ask of the rookie, who amassed 35 errors in the one-hour, 38-minute contest. Berdych, appearing in the round of 16 for the third consecutive year, broke for 3-2 in the final set to distance himself for good. The 6-foot-5 baseliner seemed to come up with a big serve every time he needed it. He finished with 10 aces, and won 85 percent of his first-serve points (39 of 46).
In the midst of a breakthrough season, Thiem was attempting to become the first Austrian to reach a major quarterfinal since his idol Jurgen Melzer at Roland Garros in 2010. (The last Austrian to reach the quarters in Flushing Meadows was Tomas Muster back in 1996.)
Berdych will next face 14th seed Marin Cilic, who earlier in the day advanced with a marathon five-set 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon. He is 5-3 against the Croat.
WHAT IT MEANS: No matter where he goes, the question always seems to follow him: “What’s it like to fly under the radar, unlike Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray?” Frankly, the Big Four comparisons have gotten a bit old for the 14-year tour vet, who last year climbed to a career-high No. 5. “Compared to them, I'm missing maybe, like, 35 Grand Slams, so I can really understand why that is,” he quipped earlier this year in Miami, where he reached the semis. “I'm really not upset. That's how it is.” A trophy here in New York, where he’s appearing in his 45th consecutive Grand Slam, might quiet those kinds of questions once and for all.
QUESTION: Berdych hasn’t returned to a Slam singles final since 2010, when he fell to Rafa Nadal at the All England Club. At 28, does the 6-foot-5 Czech still have the firepower to again challenge for a major?