|Posted on August 11, 2010 at 11:46 PM|
Smiling Tomas Berdych in Toronto on Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Tomas Berdych making a racket in the tennis world
By MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun
Tomas Berdych’s climb up the tennis ladder is picking up steam. His name isn’t quite as recognizable as those of Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or even Andy Murray, but it’s not going to be much longer before it is.
Berdych, after all has beaten all of them, except Nadal. And that’s just this calendar year.
Federer in fact has fallen twice to the 24-year-old Czech. Once in Miami in March — when the light went on for Berdych that he could beat these guys — and again at Wimbledon where he also took down Djokovic.
Berdych had a shot at taking down the top three players in that one Wimbledon but couldn’t get past Nadal in the final.
“(He) was almost impossible that day,” Berdych said of Nadal. “He was really good.”
Nadal, though, appears to be the final hurdle Berdych needs to overcome to put himself on the same footing as the other top players in the game. At this moment, the Czech doesn’t sound like he thinks beating Nadal is likely.
“I think many of us are quite far from him, and he’s playing really well, so, it’s like (we’re all) kind of chasing him. But still there are lots of other players which you need to beat them too to get to play Rafa, so it’s not that easy. And, yeah, it’s just, you know, part that he really deserves to be No. 1.”
So putting No. 1 aside, Berdych still has plenty to shoot for. He comes into Toronto seeded a personal best seventh in the world after starting the year at No. 20.
He advanced to the second round of the Rogers Cup yesterday with a tougher-than-it-looked straight sets win over Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Berdych owned Stakhovsky in the first set winning 6-2 but then used up the bulk of the hour and a half match putting him away in the second by a 6-4 count.
Berdych was happy with the result but admits he’s still working on getting his game in order after reaching an early peak at the French Open (semis) and Wimbledon (loss in the final), two results he called “my two biggest results.
“Right now I just need to calm down all the emotions and just start again, you know, from the beginning, from the first match and not to be thinking still about some good results.”
Berdych’s first action following that Wimbledon final came in Washington at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, an event he entered as the No. 1 seed. All went well until an early quarterfinal against unseeded Xavier Malisse. Following a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 loss, Berdych chastised officials for making the No. 1 seed play the early quarterfinal.
“Maybe I’m not going to come next year,” Berdych said at the time. “If you like the tournament, if you like the place, then you always want to come back. But if you get an experience like that, we will see.”
Berdych felt his seeding should have earned him a later draw in the quarters.
Perhaps it as that incident that has Berdych looking to turn back the clock. Berdych feels he’s on his way.
But as good as the season has been, and winnings of $1.755 million US suggest it has been pretty good, there is still a zero in the titles column for the year.
In his career, Berdych has won five tournaments but so far this year he is 0-for-2 when reaching a final.
“I wouldn’t change it, anything I did, for anything,” Berdych said.
Oh, he still wants a win, don’t misinterpret that, but to trade a single title for a month like he had in which he reached the semis of the French Open and the final at Wimbledon just wouldn’t be worth it.
“It’s still a lot of tournaments to go,” Berdych said. “I wouldn’t say that it’s a goal to bring another title for me. For me it’s important to even play like three, four, maybe five semis, some finals, and have a really good consistency, you know.
“So, yeah, for me, the goal for this year was to get back to top 10, to finish in London, and so far I’m doing good and I hope I can just keep it and see it in London.”
In Toronto, Berdych will have to potentially go through Federer in the quarters and Djokovic in the semis just to get another crack at Nadal.
Of course, he has already managed that once in a much bigger tournament so who is to say he couldn’t do it again.
It’s been that kind of year for Berdych.