For a moment it felt like the 1990s as a pair of big servers in Tomas Berdych and Kevin Anderson took turns at firing cannons at each other. When you watch these two play you know what you’re going to get – boom serves and plenty of big hitting from the baseline.
And today, for the ninth consecutive time, it was Berdych who prevailed. The No.7 seed simply had too much firepower for the 27th seed, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
“I'm definitely happy, of course. Even more happy with the end of the fourth set, which was very tough. Was not looking good to me,” said Berdych. “I think everything going well, going smooth. Just drop a set, which is actually good to face a bit of challenge.”
In their fifth meeting for the 2013 season, it was Anderson who started the brighter of the two. The tall South African’s serve was too hot for Berdych to handle early but it was his return game that was really troubling Berdych.
Anderson was all over the Czech’s second serve, helping himself to two first-set breaks. All was not well for Berdych and it got worse when he called the trainer early in the second set to treat back soreness, which, he later joked “it’s a matter of age maybe”.
Despite the pain, Berdych lifted his game, while Anderson’s serve dropped off. Having landed 80 per cent of first serves in the opening set, Anderson’s accuracy dropped markedly to 53 per cent in the second set.
“I think he starts pretty high percentage and pretty high everything, actually. And from that point he could go only a bit down than bring something more. I was actually just waiting to get some chance. I save some tough points again. And then, you know, when I get a chance, I took it.”
It was just the opening Berdych needed as he forced his way back into the match and claimed the next two sets. Anderson’s frustration grew as he only had himself to blame for the predicament he found himself in. Both players had six break-point opportunities in the third set alone but it was Berdych who made the most of his opportunities, converting two to Anderson’s one.
The seventh seed looked like he was on his way to the fourth round but Anderson fought back to surprise the Czech with the first service break of the fourth set. A finalist here in 2010, Berdych crafted some silky winners to bring up back-to-back breaks on his way to a four-set win.
Next up for Berdych is unseeded Australian Bernard Tomic who stunned ninth seed Richard Gasquet in four sets on Centre Court earlier in the day. “This is a very tough and tricky opponent. He can really, really be danger. His game is very different to the other guys. I think the patience is definitely going to be the word to stick on. You know, go one by one again.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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