|Posted on November 14, 2015 at 9:00 PM|
Czech Balanced: Berdych Ready For London Test
November 13, 2015 | Richard Osborn
No. 6 seed opens Barclays ATP World Tour Finals quest vs. Roger Federer
Making his sixth straight appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals this week is No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych, whose quest for his first-ever title at the year-end showdown will begin on Sunday against six-time champion Roger Federer.
Berdych finds himself in a foursome that includes Federer, defending champ Novak Djokovic and No. 8 seed Kei Nishikori, aka the Stan Smith Group. Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer comprise the Ilie Nastase Group.
It doesn’t really matter if you’re in one group or the other ” they’re both extremely tough,” said Berdych. “It’s the best eight players in the world. I’m just glad to be part of it.”
Despite reaching a career-high of No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in May, Berdych was held title-less through the first nine months of 2015. But he has since come away with trophies in Shenzhen (d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 7-6(7)) and Stockholm (d. Jack Sock 7-6(1), 6-2), and appears to be playing his best tennis of the year.
What’s made the difference? For starters, credit a balanced approach, and the fact that it’s taken some time to settle into a new player-coach relationship with Dani Vallverdu, with whom he began working in December 2014.
“The preparation before the matches, the tactics, the strategy is completely different than I was used to,” said Berdych, who is 6-14 lifetime against Federer in FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
But all the hard work is beginning to pay off.
“We’ve made improvements all year,” Berdych explained. “Even so, the year is very difficult to manage because you don’t really get that much time off in the offseason to try to work on new things. You try to add those things during the year in between the tournaments. But many things are different and working well. My game is improving.”
Of course these days, with week-to-week run-ins against the sport’s elite, you’re forced to try and keep up with the Djokovics, so to speak. If you’re not improving, you’re not going to stick around the ATP World Tour’s Top 10 for long.
“The players are improving. They’re getting better and better. That’s just a fact,” said Berdych. “The whole level of tennis is rising so high that every single aspect of the game is getting to the maximum level now.”
Berdych’s best showing at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals came in 2011, when he reached the semi-finals.