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2011 Australian Open - Berdych happy to play underdog in Melbourne

Posted on January 24, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Czech star Tomas Berdych sets sights on claiming first Grand Slam title

as public hysteria builds up over another Nadal-Federer final.

Berdych happy to play underdog in Melbourne

REUTERS | January 24, 2011

Melbourne: Quiet man Tomas Berdych is happy to be virtually off radar at the Australian Open while hysteria builds over another possible final between tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

The Czech sixth seed, Wimbledon runner-up last year, told Reuters yesterday that he was ready to go one better and claim a first grand slam title in Melbourne.

"I am a better player now," Berdych said in an interview after booking a place in the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 mauling of Spain's Fernando Verdasco yesterday.

"At Wimbledon I was riding a wave and beating guys one by one. This time I have a lot of new experience I have gained and it's definitely different," he added.

"Everyone is trying to beat me because I'm one of the top guys and they have nothing to lose. I need to cope with this situation and so far I've done great," Berdych said.

Hunter becomes hunted

"Roger and Rafa are two great stars, not just of these days but they're already part of history. That's how it is and I like being in this position. Now into the quarter-finals and I'm the one hunting the top players."

Berdych will play third seed Novak Djokovic in the last eight at Melbourne Park, encouraged by the memory of his win over the Serbian in last year's Wimbledon semi-finals.

"He's a very tough opponent but I know how to beat him," said the big Czech, serenaded during his matches at the year's first grand slam by a vocal group of bare-chested fans.

"I did it in London but he beat me in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup and the World Tour finals. This one is different. I've already got four pretty go od matches under my belt and I'm feeling confident so it could be really similar to my run at Wimbledon," Berdych said.

"I'm playing better and better, improving every match. Really looking forward to Djokovic. The attention is on Roger and Rafa — it could be an advantage for me."

While Berdych committed his meagre number of errors throughout the three sets, Verdasco made a total of 39 as his serve was broken five times.

"It's definitely one of the parts of my game that I was trying to improve, that I can still be aggressive enough on court but not with too many mistakes," Berdych said. "That's the way what I need to do.

"To do it in the fourth round of the Grand Slam with an opponent like this it's even better for me."



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