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Berdych Has Anderson's Number; Dimitrov Battles

Madrid, Spain

Berdych© Getty ImagesTomas Berdych has won one title in 2014, in Rotterdam.

Tomas Berdych moved to an 11-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head mark over Kevin Anderson as he defeated the South African 6-1, 6-4 Wednesday to reach the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open. All of the pair’s meetings have come in the past 28 months.

The sixth-seeded Berdych, runner-up at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament two years ago (l. to Federer), opened his campaign with victory in 70 minutes, winning 80 per cent of his service points and converting three of his 10 break points. 

"It was a good match. I was very happy, especially with the conditions,” said Berdych, who is coming off a runner-up showing at last week’s Portugal Open in Oeiras (l. to Berlocq). “I always like to play here. The courts are great, very well prepared. It's a bit faster because of the altitude, which suits my game well and means I can serve well and play aggressively. 

"There was also the aspect of the many matches I've played with Kevin and all of them went my way. It's always something that I can build on. I served well, played solid. I think we have similar games, but I do it a little bit better and that's the reason. I can always find something extra. It's also probably a mental thing as well now.”

Berdych goes on to face 12th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who overcame Romanian wild card Marius Copil 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(7). The Bulgarian, who claimed his first clay-court title two weeks ago in Bucharest (d. Rosol), won 80 per cent of first serve points during the contest lasting two hours and 10 minutes.

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“Marius deserved to win, but I came through on a few big points and that was the biggest difference," said Dimitrov. “I feel positive having a match like that. I suffered the entire match but I came through. Mentally, I was good. That was my only weapon today.”

Three weeks after losing their contest in Monte-Carlo, Ernests Gulbis transformed his tactics to best Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-4 in the second round. “It was a different match,” explained the Latvian. “I tried to go for long rallies [in Monte-Carlo], so this time I just went for shorter rallies. 

“I was much more aggressive with my backhand, served much better and I prefer the conditions in Madrid much more, because Monte-Carlo is really slow.”

Gulbis next meets Croatian Marin Cilic, who notched his 27th match win of the season as he defeated Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. Cilic and Mathieu were facing off for the first time since splitting their six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in 2008.

Lucky loser Lukasz Kubot made the most of Roger Federer’s withdrawal, defeating Gilles Simon 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 27 minutes.

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