Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych, seeded 5th at the Australian Open, hit a wall on Tuesday in the form of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Although he showed moments of inspiration, he lost two sets very lopsidedly, twice giving Djokovic easy leads. Berdych hung on briefly in the fourth, trying to claw his way back into the match, but it wasn’t enough.
On Tuesday, tennis fans in the Czech Republic had high hopes for Tomáš Berdych, the last Czech standing in the men’s singles competition at the Australian Open, the season’s first Grand Slam. Until the quarterfinal, the player had not lost a single set and was more than happy with his game. Ahead of the match, here’s what Berdych had to say:
“I’m enjoying tennis more than ever. I have more experience to compare my game now, whether it was like this or like that in the past and whether I’ve put certain periods behind me. I’m enjoying tennis more than ever and I hope it comes across in my game.”
Ahead of the quarterfinals the player made clear he would need to come out swinging: facing the Serbian World No.1 for him has never been easy. Berdych has lost to Djokovic on 11 out of 12 occasions, the exception being the 2010 semi-final at Wimbledon. But if that was the game plan it quickly evaporated on the court. With an unsteady serve Berdych quickly fell behind and lost the first set solidly. In fact, the first and third sets were identical: Djokovic won both 6:1 and each lasted just 28 minutes.
In the second set, Berdych was able to raise his game and come back, winning 6:4. In the fourth he was able to channel some fighting spirit to try and stay in the match but it was too little, too late. Losing his serve again put things beyond reach. Djokovic ground away at his opponent and although he failed to put away three match points, he soon converted the fourth. Here’s how the play was reported on AO Radio:
“He’s like a wounded warrior out there, Tomáš Berdych, surely Novak will close out this time... fourth set point, fourth match point. Goes down the T, holds his arms in the air and stares at the sky. After serving an ace Novak Djokovic hits a ball into the crowd, shakes hands with Tomáš Berdych...”
And that was it. The final score was with 6:1, 4:6, 6:1, 6:4.
As it stands no Czechs remain in the singles at the 2013 Australian Open. Other hopefuls such as top 10 women’s player Petra Kvitová, ranked eighth on the WTA, exited earlier as did longer shots in the men’s competition like Lukáš Rosol. Conspicuously absent at this stage are doubles partners Radek Štepánek and Leander Paes, the defending champions who were unexpectedly beaten in the first round.
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