Day 4 of my World Tour Finals preview takes a look at the year of Tomas Berdych. The Czech’s place in the draw was mathematically confirmed a few weeks back in Stockholm after a defeat of Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the final.
Titles: Montpellier (Indoor Hard), Stockholm (Indoor Hard)
Berdych’s year began in Australia as he teamed up with Petra Kvitova to be victorious at the Hopman Cup. In the mixed-teams exhibition, he would beat Richard Gasquet in the final. Another exhibition would be his only preparation before the Australian Open but it wouldn’t affect him too much. A fourth round victory over Nicolas Almagro earned him a quarter final date with another Spaniard. He would take the first set but Rafael Nadal eventually would come out on top in four sets.
Moving on to the first European indoor swing which would prove quite fruitful for him, three Frenchmen and Philipp Kohlschreiber were defeated for his first title of the year in Montpellier for the loss of just one set. A semi final in Rotterdam saw a crushing loss for Berdych against Juan Martin Del Potro.
Dubai saw him exit to Andy Murray at the quarter finals before two disappointing losses in North America. Nicolas Almagro dropped just four games in victory at Indian Wells while Miami saw a surprise win for Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.
Revenge would be gained in Monte Carlo when Murray was defeated in the quarter finals at the first clay Masters of the year. Unfortunately, the next round saw him defeated by Novak Djokovic despite taking the first set. The Czech would go one better on the controversial Madrid clay, making the final where he would face Roger Federer. As with recent encounters, he would cause the Swiss trouble but ultimately would lose from a set up. He would be unfortunate enough to face Juan Martin Del Potro in the fourth round, and would come unstuck despite taking the second set 6-1 and the momentum seemingly with him.
Once a Wimbledon finalist, there would be high hopes for the grass swing but it would be disastrous. An early loss to Tommy Haas had looked terrible on paper but this was before any consistent indications of the level the veteran German was playing at this year. Even worse would be his performance at Wimbledon, where Ernests Gulbis was victorious in three tie break sets. While Gulbis is still capable of playing at a high level from time to time, it would still a huge shock and in true Gulbis style the Latvian would exit to a qualifier in the next round anyway. Things wouldn’t get much better in his return to Wimbledon at the London Olympics, exiting to another player much lower ranked than him in Steve Darcis.
The slump continued onto the North American swing with back-to-back defeats in the third round of Cincinnati and Toronto to Milos Raonic and Richard Gasquet respectively. He bounced back at the Winston Salem Open, making the final. However, it ended in heartbreak as three match points came and went in a final set tie break against John Isner. Most hurtful will be the poor volley into the net at *6-5 with an open court.
Despite going deep a week before the US Open, it would appear to have no ill effects on his fitness. He picked up one of his best wins of the year over then No. 1 Roger Federer in the quarter finals in four sets. After taking the first set against a slow-starting Andy Murray in the semis, he would begin to falter as adverse weather conditions saw him produce errors in abundance to pick up just three games in the next two sets. He had the chance to take it to a decider but would lose 11-9 in a vital fourth set tie breaker.
Berdych led the Czechs to the Davis Cup final with victories over Carlos Berlocq and Juan Monaco, the latter a topsy turvy affair that saw Monaco lose from a seemingly insurmountable position but not before getting it back on serve from a double break down in the decider. It has to be said that the Czechs were fortunate to see Juan Martin Del Potro ruled out through injury though.
Tokyo and Shanghai saw quarter final and semi final exits respectively before the return to Europe for the second indoor swing. From a set and a break down, he would be victorious in the final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a thrilling encounter to take his second title of the year.
With just one top four player remaining in Paris at the third round stage, there is a very real chance that Berdych could take the title here and become the first player outside the “Big 4″ to win a Masters title since Robin Soderling in Paris 2010.