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Friday, 14 July 2017 20:37 PM BST
Berdych bounced out of Wimbledon
Federer is just proving his greatness, says beaten semi-finalist READ MORE

Pity poor Tomas Berdych: he comes to Wimbledon at the age of 31 and as a former finalist. He finds the sort of form that ushered him through to the last Sunday back in 2010. And then he bumps into Roger Federer and bounces off the living legend without leaving so much as a dent.

He lost in straight sets but they were tight sets (two hours and 18 minutes for a 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 6-4 win had the Swiss maestro working hard and muttering to himself in Swiss-German throughout the match). But Berdych still lost and in his book, you cannot draw comfort from a loss, no matter how close it was.

“Close or far doesn't really matter,” he said in his own matter-of-fact matter. “The score is important, and that shows pretty much straightforward.”

Most players like to talk about themselves after a match (it is why we drag them into the press conferences, after all) but Berdych knew that this was going to be different. He had just played a man who has spent a career rewriting history and now, at the age of 35, Federer is on the verge of doing what no other man has done before: win an eighth Wimbledon singles title.

This time last year, everyone feared for Federer’s future. Losing here in the semi-finals, he took six months off to recover from the lingering effects of knee surgery. To mere mortals – especially to mere mortals in their 30s – that would have been the end of them. But not Federer.

Federer takes a break; Federer comes back and wins the Australian Open. Federer takes another break and now he is in the Wimbledon final. Federer, then, is not as other men.

“I don't see anything that would indicate really Roger is getting older or anything like that,” Berdych said. “I mean, I think he's just proving his greatness in our sport. So I think that's all I can say about that. That's very simple.

“If you look at the other guys who are 35, 36, I think you can very clearly see that the age and the years on tour are affecting them. But not with him.

He's just proving his greatness in our sport. So I think that's all I can say about that. That's very simple.

- Tomas Berdych

"He's doing the things very right way. You have to be the unique one for that. It's not just that, okay, you're going to take a half year rest. If I take a half year rest without a tournament, I don't have to come back. Things doesn't work like that for everyone. It's very nice that he's proving that this is the ideal way. But it just doesn't work for everybody.”

As for the match itself, Berdych was trying very hard not to be downhearted. He had done everything he could think of but Federer was simply much better on the day. It was a bit like turning up to ‘show and tell’ at school with your most prized toy car only for the school swot to have his dad drop him off in a Ferrari.

“It's extremely difficult,” Berdych said. “I think I played really good tennis throughout the whole tournament. But I just unfortunately faced a guy that he's playing in his best. I think he's playing by far the best tennis right now.

“Roger doesn't give you any rhythm at all. He's playing barely with any mistakes. He was controlling the game pretty well. Even those two sets in the tiebreak, I was still the one facing couple more breakpoints down.

“Even so, I had a little chance here and there. Then great serves come up from him, stuff like that. So it's just showing how well he's playing right now.”

Berdych will, with good health and good fortune, be back next year. But by then, the legend that is Roger Federer may have rewritten even more chapters in the history of men’s tennis.

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