|Posted on November 30, 2011 at 11:55 PM|
Berdych became the first Czech ever to advance to the semis in the season-ending ATP World Tour finals
Berdych finishes season strong
Semifinal appearance in London wraps 2011 on high note
November 30, 2011
THE PRAGUE POST | By Frantisek Bouc
Tomas Berdych showed fighting spirit at the season-ending ATP World Tour finals which concluded in London Nov. 28, becoming the first Czech ever to reach the tournament's semifinal round.
Berdych faced a match point in all four of his matches in the tournament. Still, he scored a pair of victories before losing to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. Tsonga would go on to lose to Roger Federer in the finals.
Having lost to the world's No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, in his opening match, Berdych moved on to beat Djoković's countryman Janko Tipsarević, who had replaced injured homecrowd favorite Andy Murray, and then beat Spain's David Ferrer.
Tsonga dominated the first set in the semifinals before riding out a nervy second set to win 6-3, 7-5.
Berdych came from a set and a break down to beat Ferrer in his previous match and it seemed history might repeat itself. But Tsonga punished Berdych for an error-strewn display. Both men were contesting their first season-end championship semifinal and seeking to reach the second-biggest final of their respective careers.
Tsonga was runner-up at the 2008 Australian Open while Berdych made it to the Wimbledon finals in 2010, but that is where the similarities ended on this occasion.
Comfortable service holds were exchanged at the start of the match. Later, Tsonga broke Berdych's serve and wrapped up the first set. The momentum carried over into the beginning of the second set, when Tsonga engineered two break points. Berdych managed to save both, but the pressure mounted in game seven, and this time Berdych cracked, double faulting to give Tsonga a 4-3 lead.
Berdych managed to come back in the match and he leveled the score at the end of the second set. But his ground strokes deserted him when they mattered most. Tsonga broke Berdych's serve a second time to reach 6-5 and then served the match out to seal his place in the final against Federer.
Still, Berdych made an impressive appearance in London, finishing at the top of Group A after a dramatic 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over the world No. 5 Ferrer. It was Berdych's first win in more than six years over Ferrer.
Berdych, who had lost to Djoković after holding one match point opportunity, finished round-robin play with a 2-1 record. Overall this season, Berdych has a career-best 53-21 match record for the year, finishing a respectable 6-7 against the top 10 opponents. He lifted his sixth ATP World Tour title at the China Open in Beijing in October.
Federer would defeat Tsonga 6-3, 6-7 [6-8], 6-3, winning his 70th career tournament and reclaiming third place in the ATP rankings from Andy Murray to conclude the season. Djoković finished in the top spot, with Spaniard Rafael Nadal ranked second.