|Posted on October 2, 2016 at 5:40 PM|
Tomas Berdych captured his first title of the season when he battled past Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (2-7), 6-3 to clinch the Shenzhen Open for the second successive year on Sunday. The victory boosted hopes of a seventh-consecutive ATP World Tour final appearance for Berdych, who is currently ninth in the race, just outside the eight qualifying spots for London.
PREVIEWLong time rivals, Gasquet and Berdych are level at 7-7 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Looking ahead to the clash, Gasquet said, "He’s one of the best players in the world; he’s been Top 10 for many years. He won here last year so he will be the favourite. But, I beat him many times, he beat me many times. We know each other very well, since we were 12 years old. It will be a tough battle for both of us."
Tomas Berdych in action during the men's singles final match against France's Richard Gasquet at Shenzhen Open ATP tennis tournament in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province on Sunday, October 2, 2016. Berdych won 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3.
Score and Stats - Tomas Berdych retained the title after beating Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych shake hands at the net
Tomas Berdych poses with his trophy after winning the men's singles final match against Richard Gasquet of France at Shenzhen Open ATP tennis tournament in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province on October 2, 2016.
Berdych Title Puts Heat On Rafa
ATP Staff | Sunday, October 2, 2016
Czech turns up the heat on Nadal in Emirates ATP Race To London
Tomas Berdych moved to within 330 points of Rafael Nadal in the Emirates ATP Race To London as he won his first ATP World Tour title of the season at the Shenzhen Open.
In his 15th meeting with Richard Gasquet, defending champion Berdych retained his title with a 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 victory in the final on Sunday.
Berdych is currently ninth in the year-to-date standings, with the top eight at the end of the regular season set to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Berdych has played at the prestigious season finale in London the past six years.
After being forced to miss the US Open due to appendicitis, Berdych has hit top form quickly on his return to action, reaching the semi-finals in St. Petersburg last year (l. to Zverev).
"Five weeks ago I was in hospital, now I'm sitting here with the trophy," said Berdych. "Things are changing very quickly. Luckily for me, everything is going well, I'm feeling good, sitting here as a winner. I'm just taking all this as a bonus, that I can play and win some matches."
The 31-year-old Berdych lifted his first ATP World Tour trophy since triumphing at the If Stockholm Open almost one year ago. The Czech improved to a 13-17 record in tour-level finals. Four of Berdych's titles have come in Asia (2008 Tokyo, 2011 Beijing, 2015-16 Shenzhen).
In the fourth all-30 and over final on the ATP World Tour this season, Berdych improved to an 8-7 mark over Gasquet in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series as he claimed victory in two hours and 40 minutes. Berdych is the 18th 30-and-over winner on the ATP World Tour this season.
The top seed lost serve in the first game of the match, but immediately struck back to draw level with Gasquet. In the eventual tie-break, Berdych clinched the opener on his first set point.
A break in the third game gave Berdych an early lead in the second set. But he was denied on two match points as Gasquet held serve in the ninth game and then saw his lead snuffed out as the Frenchman staged a late fight back with a break of serve to love as Berdych served for the match. Gasquet then took the match into a decider as he dominated the tie-break.
Berdych regrouped in the third set, though. The Czech broke through in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead and did not falter when serving for the match a second time, closing out the final game to 15.
"I think it was a very solid game," said Berdych. "I said after the semi-final that I wanted to raise my game and play better and I think I achieved that against a tougher opponent. I'm very pleased with the way I played.
"The two match points [in the second set] were very tough. He served aces so I couldn't do anything about that. He started playing very well and deserved to win the second set. I had to battle for the win and sometimes that happens."
Berdych will now look to make up more ground on Nadal in the Emirates ATP Race To London when he competes at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2016, an ATP World Tour 500 hard court tournament in Tokyo next week. Nadal is the second seed at the China Open in Beijing.
Third seed Richard Gasquet was looking to win his second ATP World Tour title of the season, following victory in Montpellier in February (d. Mathieu). The Frenchman falls to a 13-13 finals record on the ATP World Tour.
Runner up Richard Gasquet
Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet of France pose with their trophies after their men's singles final match at Shenzhen Open ATP tennis tournament in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong province on October 2, 2016. Berdych won 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3.