Berdych downs ‘struggling’ Feds
Originally published on: 31/03/10 10:57
Perhaps it will be a slice of comfort for last year’s Miami finalists Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who both slumped out of the Sony Ericsson Open with tails between their legs. Perhaps the draw’s highest remaining seed Rafael Nadal now has a greater chance of claiming his first tournament win since May 2009. Maybe even Nicolas Almagro – the lowest ranked seed left in the draw – can ‘do an Ivan Ljubicic,‘ so to speak, and record an unlikely first Masters 1000 victory.
Either way it won’t be Roger Federer who lifts the Sony Ericsson Open’s glass trophy, after the two-time champion bowed out 6-4 6-7(3) 7-6(6) to 20th-ranked Tomas Berdych in a haze of 62 unforced errors.
“My game has issues at the moment,” admitted the world No.1 after the chance to close in on a record-equalling 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title slipped away from him in a riveting two-hour-51-minute contest.
“I’m definitely lacking timing. I don’t know where that comes from,” he added in reference to his uncharacteristic display of mistakes.
Berdych capitalised on those from the off, claiming the first set on a Federer double fault. Playing the Swiss for the first time since letting a two-set lead slip in the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2009, the 24-year-old Czech saved eight of ten break points faced– seven of which came in a tense second set that the Swiss edged on the tiebreak.
A misfiring Federer managed to keep the pressure on Berdych in the final set as he recovered from a break down in the decider to force a second tie-break.
“The last match we played in Australia I was two sets up, but he came back strongly and won that match,” said Berdych, who was delighted to fend off a revival this time out.
Saving a match point and setting up victory with two massive forehands, Berdych clinched victory when the 16-time Grand Slam champ conceded the match after sending a forehand long.
“It’s a great feeling to beat the No. 1 player in the world,” Berdych enthused, after achieving the feat for the second time in 10 meetings having beaten Fed in their first ever encounter at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
“I need to take all the positive things, all the confidence from this match, and take it into the next match.”
Disappointed to lose after forcing his way back into the match despite struggling for consistency, Federer admitted that he had been less than happy with his form during the American hard-court season.
“Look, it’s no secret I’ve struggled the last, what is it, five matches I’ve played here in the States. It’s disappointing, I think, my performance overall, if I’ve got to analyze right now after the match.”
But in typical Federer-fashion, the 28-year-old refused to be despondent in defeat and is looking forward to a change of surface in the build up to the French Open at the end of May.
“[This loss] only fuels my desire to go back to the practice courts and come back even stronger,” he said.
“I don’t like to lose these type of the matches. I’m looking forward to the clay court season now. It helps to kind of move on to a different surface. Definitely need to practice harder, and that’s what I’ll do.”