Wednesday 25 June 2014
The sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, suffering a wrist strain following a fall in his first round match, overcame what he called “the discomfort” and an extremely dogged opponent to march into the last 32 of the gentlemen’s singles.
In a match of brilliant serving and brutal hitting the Czech outlasted Australia’s Bernard Tomic 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-1 in two and a half hours on No.1 Court, with Tomic rendering his world ranking of No. 86 nonsense with the excellence of his serving and the manner in which he extended a former Wimbledon finalist before running out of energy in a one-sided fourth set.
Berdych managed to make light of his wrist problems until late in the third set when he called for medical advice, and a pain-killing pill, before getting back on his feet, saving a couple of break points to force the second tie-break of the match and accelerating away to a victory that was virtually a repeat of the only previous meeting between these two, also a four-setter containing two tie-breaks, in the fourth round of last year’s Wimbledon.
Tomic was a Wimbledon quarter-finalist as an 18-year-old qualifier in 2011 and a year later had shot up to No.27 in the world rankings. Times have been bleak lately, however, so the positive and attractive way he played was a revelation – and probably an unwelcome surprise to Berdych, who was probably hoping his wrist would not have to undergo such a rigorous test.
The Czech was clearly taken aback by dropping serve as early as the fifth game of the opening set when he steered a cross-court backhand just wide. It was the Australian’s lone break point of the set, which he went on to capture in 34 minutes.
Thereafter, break points were as rare as a Berdych smile as these two battered the ball back and forth. Shorter rallies tended to suit Tomic more; in the extended exchanges Berdych’s greater expertise usually proved decisive.
Tomic managed to fend off a couple of set points at 4-5 in the second set but Berdych tipped the tie-break his way with a brace of aces and won it with the most delicate cross-court forehand.
The fierce pace began to take its toll in the third set. In the case of Tomic, it was physical, while Berdych’s anxiety was mainly with the line-calling and the decisions that so frequently went against him. He even railed a couple of times against the Hawk-Eye verdicts, but when a set devoid of break points went into the tie-break it was Berdych who pulled away confidently.
The loss of that second tie-break left Tomic dejected, deflated, devoid of energy and, he revealed later, suffering a suspected repeat flare-up of the hip problem that required surgery last January. It was over in 21 minutes and having hammered down 25 aces and struck 68 clean winners Berdych even managed to treat the audience to a victory smile. He also paid full tribute to his opponent: “He’s a dangerous player on grass so you need to stay really close with him and be patient. He played three great sets but then just completely went down, and that was it.”
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