By Lisa-Marie Burrows
During the weekend there were Davis Cup matches taking place all around the globe. Some countries were fighting to stay in their world group category; others were fighting for a place in the final of the Davis Cup. In Gijon, Spain, the home country favourites took on the USA and booked their place in the final despite a comeback attempt from the Bryan brothers on Saturday where they won their 5-set thriller to keep the USA’s hopes alive. By Sunday, their dream was crushed after David Ferrer defeated American, John Isner, in their encounter after a fairly straightforward 4 sets victory.
The question on their lips afterwards was, where would Spain be playing and whom will they face in the final? Spain had to wait to see the outcome of the other semifinal between Argentina and the Czech Republic and what a weekend of thrilling matches that was for both countries and that for me, was the standout Davis Cup tie of the weekend. The Czech Republic made it through after another nail-biting match by Czech hero, Tomas Berdych and he proved himself to be an impressive and formidable player that weekend. Here are the top reasons why Berdych should be very satisfied with his imposing performances over the weekend:
Fighting against fatigue
Coming into the Davis Cup semifinal in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Berdych had admitted that it was going to be a big last minute adjustment to get use to the clay again after the hard courts of New York and he like many other players who were competing in the Davis Cup, was also feeling the effects of a long summer on the courts. Berdych reached the fourth round in the ATP Masters 1000 events in Toronto, Cincinnati, he was a runner-up in the last event before the US Open at Winston Salem and then progressed to the semifinals in New York defeating Roger Federer en route, before losing to eventual champion Andy Murray. Coming into the tie, many questioned his physical condition, but despite the 4-hours he spent on court against Mónaco, 2-hours and 30 minutes in his doubles match and a further 2-hours and 30 minutes on Sunday, he fought against his weariness to win all three matches.
The Argentinean home crowd was fantastic, animated, loyal and very involved. Drums were banging, trumpets were played and the crowd was creating enough noise to resemble that of a football match. Every point that was won by an Argentinean player was celebrated as though they had won the match and in each of those matches, it was Berdych who had to face the crowd. The Czech player was extremely impressive having kept his cool during every battle and he did not let the crowd interrupt his flow or concentration of the game. Even as Berdych was winning his matches, making an astounding comeback against Juan Mónaco and he kept Charly Berlocq at bay, the increasingly hostile crowds who cheered when he netted a ball or jeered when he questioned a call were still unable to break him. That is the beauty of Davis Cup and no doubt he will be pleased that the final will take place on his home soil and this time the crowd will be cheering him on!
Three days, three matches, three victories
Originally, Tomas Berdych was only suppose to play in the singles and reverse singles initially, but after his win against Juan Mónaco, their tie was leveled at one point a piece and many began to wonder if he would also feature in the doubles to try and seal the third and valuable point to give the Czech Republic the advantage at 2-1 and surprise, surprise, he did. Berdych paired up with Radek Stepanek who also featured on Friday in the singles match against Juan Martin Del Potro, to win their doubles encounter on Saturday. After their Davis Cup semifinal victory, Tomas Berdych was understandably proud that he had won all three matches that he had played in to secure the win for his country.
Keeping his cool
During all three matches, there was not one occasion when Tomas Berdych lost his cool on the tennis court with himself, his opponent or with the crowd, which he has been known for in the past. For me, there was an occasion when I held my breath and thought that now is the time when Berdych will become angry during his match on Sunday against Berlocq as the umpire, James Keothavong, addressed the Czech crowd in English at 5-3, a pivotal time during the match, asking them to be quiet and respectful during play. The Czech crowd was clearly the minority and the laughable request did not even make Berdych flicker with surprise or rage, he simply adjusted his hat and continued play, not allowing the demand to affect him. This was impressive given the absurdity of the call as he served out for the set regardless.
On Monday, it was Tomas Berdych’s 27th birthday and no doubt for him it was an extra special celebration with his family, friends, team and compatriots after securing all three points for the Czech Republic and along with Radek Stepanek, he contributed enormously to booking their place in the final in November.
By Lisa-Marie Burrows