Berdych Sends Federer Spinning Out
by James Buddell|
What a difference a month makes! Tomas Berdych, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros, considered one of the most talented players on tour, has become the first Czech in 20 years to reach the last four at The Championships.
In excellent conditions on Centre Court, the scene of Ivan Lendl’s runner-up finishes in 1986 and 1987, No. 12 seed Berdych recorded the biggest win of his career in beating defending champion and six-time titlist Roger Federer 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 31 minutes.
"[I'm] not surprised," said Berdych. "I'm very happy with my performance today. I was playing really well. I [had] some weak moments in the second set when I lost my serve and gave him chance to win the set. I didn't have any special tactics. For me the important thing was to play my tennis, serve well [and] play aggressive."
Talking of his new-found confidence, Berdych said: "It's not only about last two weeks. It's started, I would say maybe in Indian Wells [and] Miami."
As a result Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam championship winner, will drop to No. 3 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings on Monday. It will mark the first time he has ranked No. 3 since 10 November 2003.
The Swiss superstar dropped to a 55-6 record at the All England Club. It marks the first time he has not reached a grass-court final since losing in the first round at Wimbledon (l. to Ancic) in 2002. He had reached 13 straight grass-court finals since then, including seven at Wimbledon and six at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.
“I don't think I played poorly,” said Federer. “But I think he went after it. I think he's been able to play more consistent last year or so, and I was just not able to defend well enough and I didn't come up with the good stuff when I had to.
“But I've been feeling bad [due to leg and back stiffness] for the last two, three matches now. It's just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions. So if there's anything good about this it's I'm going to get some rest.”
Berdych, who beat Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami in March, was at his fluent best attacking the top seed at every opportunity. He dropped just 13 points on first serve, hit 12 aces and 51 winners.
Breaking serve at 3-3 in the first set, when Federer hit a backhand long, Berdych coolly claimed a set-lead after 34 minutes, having won 89 per cent of service points including four aces.
Federer, who had appeared in every Wimbledon final since 2003, rallied in the 37-minute second set. Capitalising on three double faults from Berdych in the opening game, the Swiss levelled the scoreline.
But Berdych came storming back, breaking serve in the second and fifth games of the third set, which he closed out to love with an ace. Picking the right time to attack the net, Berdych won 20 of 30 points.
In the seventh game of the fourth set, Berdych converted his second break point opportunity with a brilliant cross-court forehand winner on the run to take a 4-3 lead.
Serving for the match at 5-4, Berdych found himself pinned behind the baseline on his match point at 40-30. Federer saved it with a backhand volley winner, but Berdych was not to be denied his third win over the World No. 1.
On his second match point, the Czech hit a forehand approach winner past Federer to set up a semi-final meeting against third seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Should Berdych emulate Lendl by reaching the Wimbledon final he would break into the Top 10 of the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings. Jan Kodes is the only Czech player in the Open Era to win at The Championships in 1973.
Federer, who committed 18 unforced errors – five fewer than Berdych - had not lost to a player outside the Top 10 at a Grand Slam championship since 2004 at Roland Garros.
“I can't wait for Paris and Wimbledon to come around next year again,” admitted Federer.
“[The] quarters is a decent result. It's not something I'm used to doing, losing in quarter-finals, because it's not something I've done in the last six years.”