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2011 Wimbledon: Berdych advances with the pressure finally off

Tomas Berdych beats Italy's Filippo Volandri to advance to the second round at Wimbledon

Wimbledon 2011: Tomas Berdych advances with the pressure finally off

• Last year's beaten finalist on course for Nadal rematch
• Sixth seed admits to tough spell in the limelight

THE GUARDIAN | 20 June 2011

by Simon Cambers at Wimbledon

Last year's losing finalist, Tomas Berdych, made an impressive start to his Wimbledon campaign on Monday, looking happy to be back where he came so close to glory. The man whose title dreams were ended by Rafael Nadal 12 months ago demolished Italy's Filippo Volandri 6–2, 6–2, 6–1 in just over an hour and a half of quiet brutality.

The Czech, seeded sixth this year, is in Nadal's section of the draw and is scheduled to meet him in the quarter–finals. On Monday's evidence it is a match the world No1 will not be looking forward to as Berdych crunched 12 aces en route to a simple and commanding win. Berdych did not even face a break point against as the world No81 Volandri was thoroughly outclassed. At 29 the Italian is still a decent player on clay but on grass he finds it tough and has now lost seven of his eight matches here.

For many players reaching a Wimbledon final would be the springboard for more, a stepping stone to grand slam titles, but Berdych is a sensitive soul. His victories over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic here suggested he could be on course for future success but instead, as last summer wore on, the pressure on him to deliver became too much.

"I was in a new situation," he said. "Everyone was expecting too much from me. It was like: semi–finals in Paris [at the French Open], final at Wimbledon, so what are you going to do next? I just had too much of that. I heard it from every single corner. It doesn't help. It doesn't change anything. It doesn't help you to feel good on court. For me it was a new experience. And when people went on court against me they thought: 'OK, I'm playing against Berdych, let's try to beat him because he's had good results."

In the Toronto Masters last August he came close against Federer but lost, a match that left him feeling spent. This year his results have been steady but not spectacular and his first–round defeat at the French Open last month rocked his confidence further. But on Monday it looked as if he was back in a good place and he will be confident of getting past Julien Benneteau of France in the second round.