Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Archive for berdych

Federer v Berdych as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne Men’s fourth-round result:

R Federer (Swi) bt T Berdych (Cze)

6-4 7-6 (9-7) 6-3

* denotes server

By Piers Newbery

Third set:

Federer 6-3 Berdych
No problem for Federer, although Berdych does throw in one more howler with a woeful backhand into the net. It may have been straight sets but it was engrossing stuff and Federer was in real danger in the second set tie-break. Still, only those of us who were here will ever really understand that.

I’m off to lie down for a couple of days before returning for the glory shifts later in the week, my colleague Sarah will be bringing you Hewitt v Djokovic from 0830 GMT. And of course you could watch it via the red button or on this website. Or listen on 5 Live Sports Extra. There’s no excuse.

Federer 5-3 Berdych
For old time’s sake, Berdych smacks his seventh ace of the day to take the game.

Federer 5-2 Berdych
Federer might have ben on court for about nine hours the other night but he looks as fresh as a daisy at the moment, finishing the game with an ace and a hooked foreahnd. Tasty.

Federer 4-2 Berdych
And goodnight. Berdych slips to 0-30 and then double faults. Break point and the Czech obliges by sending a forehand over the baseline.

Federer 3-2 Berdych
Federer is looking in great touch now, playing one gorgeous drop shot and another of those sweeping forehands. Not much Berdych can do about it. Federer’s girlfriend, Mirka, continues to demolish the world’s chewing gum resources in the stands.

0537: Absolute horror show from Berdych, he’ll have nightmares about that tie-break. After toms text, i too have no lectures this week but thats because i have exams. Im doing an all nighter 4 my economics exam which is now in only 4 hours!”
From Olly via text

Federer 2-2 Berdych
Federer looks a little frustrated as he fails to take advantage from deuce, firing a forehand well long to give up the game.

Federer 2-1 Berdych
Easy peasy for Fed – he really is serving well at the moment. A love game and the pressure is back on Berdych.

Federer 1-1 Berdych
The game appears to be up when Federer sweeps to 15-40 with a couple of sweet passing shots but he cannot convert either set point and Berdych hangs on.

Federer 1-0 Berdych
Federer nips off for a break at the changeover, Berdych sits with his legs crossed shaking his head in disbelief. Rog opens the third set with a double fault but is quickly back on track and holds easily.

Second set:

Federer 7-6 (9-7) Berdych
I’m involuntarily laughing again – that was fantastic entertainment. Federer battles back from 5-2 down and then puts a forehand long. Set point for Berdych and he goes for…. a drop shot! Naturally it plops into the net and his coach holds his head in his hands. Unbelievably, the Czech gets another chance and this time he wallops an easy forehand into the tram lines. His coach looks ready to cry. Federer is not going to pass up this gift and converts his first set point when Berdych thwacks a forehand over the baseline. That, my friends, is choking. Great to watch though.

0509: “Good thing I’ve no lectures this week. We love you Piers!”
Not my words, the words of Tom via text (honest)

Federer 6-6 Berdych
Federer races through a love-service game and we’re into a huge tie-break that will surely dictate whether we’re facing another epic, or a straight-sets win. And when I get to eat breakfast.

Federer 5-6 Berdych
Big Tommy B is hammering down big serves and finding the lines with his groundstrokes, and a routine game is on the cards at 40-0. Federer keeps him honest with a winning return and then clips way a volley before Berdych misses one from the net – it’s deuce. Berdych survives with, yes, a bog serve and a big forehand.

Meanwhile, James Blake leads Marin Cilic by two sets and a break.

Federer 5-5 Berdych
Federer does well to stay alert to a Berdych forehand that clips the line, geting a racket to it and sending the ball back into the open court – just. He holds and we’re heading for a tie-break.

Federer 4-5 Berdych
Blimey. Berdych hits one forehand winner that is so good it makes me laugh out loud, don’t know why. He does it again moments later to hold serve and Federer will be desperate to get this set.

Federer 4-4 Berdych
We’re coming to crunch time now and both men are raising their games. Federer cracks ace number five at 30-30 but Berdych hits back with a spectacular cross-court forehand pass. A couple of deuces come and go but Berdych cannot capitalise.

0449: “Berdych has got all the talent in the world but Federer raises his game and Berdych just seems to wilt under the pressure. It has been a problem for him in the past – he just doesn’t seem to believe he can beat Federer.”
BBC Sport’s Chris Bailey on 5 Live

Federer 3-4 Berdych
More top-quality stuff and Berdych does brillianty to hold with a couple of sharp volleys.

Federer 3-3 Berdych
“Allez!” screams Federer when he saves a break point with a beautiful wrong-footing forehand. He repeats the trick on the next point and claims a vital hold to level things. Berdych asks the umpire if he can change his shoes, so Federer changes his racket. I decide to crack open the biscuits.

Federer 2-3 Berdych
Federer looks like he’s got his groove back as he races to 0-40 and three break-back points but Berdych saves the first two with the usual combination – serve/forehand. He can’t make it three in a row, though, thumping a regulation forehand long and we’re back on serve.

Federer 1-3 Berdych
Federer gets off the mark in this set but Berdych manages one stunning backhand pass, and Fed still has aface like thunder.

Federer 0-3 Berdych
Fed is back to the grumbling that marked much of his match against Tipsarevic the other day – he’s not happy with a line call but doesn’t challenge it. Berdych ingores it and holds to love. I think his fans are chanting “barmy army, barmy army!” Bloomin’ cheek.

Federer 0-2 Berdych
This time it’s Federer who falls 0-30 behind, attracting some rather harsh giggles from the crowd when he nets a smash. It went about three miles into the bright blue Melbourne sky. Anyway, Berdych arrows a beautiful backhand winner down the line that Federer unsuccessfully challenges and the Czech converts his second break point with a big forehand. Settle back everyone….

Federer 0-1 Berdych
Alarm bells are ringing for Berdych when he slips 0-30 down at the start of the second set but the man from Valasske Mezirici (!) serves his way out of trouble impressively.

First set:

Federer 6-4 Berdych
The world number one is in the mood today, wrestling the initiative away from Berdych to grab the first set with a noncholant forehand winner into the corner after 31 minutes. Federer is serving at 71% and will be hard to beat if that continues.

Federer 5-4 Berdych
After eight games of bish-bash-bosh, Berdych goes for a delicate drop shot that plops into the net. Federer skips around a backhand and wallops a forehand down the line for 30-30, giving it some “C’mon!” The first break point of the match arrives and Berdych fails to put away a mid-court ball, allowing Federer to hook a forehand past him and move ahead.

Federer 4-4 Berdych
A smash and an ace help Federer to hold, despite a successful Hawkeye challenge from Berdych. The winner will play James Blake or Marin Cilic, and Blake has just taken the first set.

0412: “Well, hopefully Berdych will come up with an upset, but, in all honesty? I can’t see Federer losing this. Federer in straight sets.”
From Shaun via text

Federer 3-4 Berdych
Guess what – Berdych holds easily with some heavy serving and huge groundstrokes. It’s blow for blow at the moment, no sign of weakness from either man.

Federer 3-3 Berdych
A thumpingly impressive game from Federer, who is serving well and swats away a couple of forehands for a hold to love.

0407: “I have a lecture at 9, im hoping for a 5 hour marathon match to keep me occupied before i leave.”
From ray in telford via text

Federer 2-3 Berdych
Berdych dominates on serve again, taking it to love when Federer frames a forehand out of court. Prepare yourselves for another long one.

Federer 2-2 Berdych
Another superb game – Berdych moves 0-30 clear with a fizzing backhand return down the line. Federer looks in trouble on the next point but produces a magnificent forehand volley and serves out the game.

Federer 1-2 Berdych
Berdych digs out an incredible lunging forehand pass that he hooks around Federer at the net and races to 40-0. But Federer finds an even better forehand winner at a ridiculous angle and Berdych then double faults and sticks a forehand long. The big Czech holds his nerve with a couple of winners – cracking stuff.

Federer 1-1 Berdych
Big serves and big forehands are the bread-and-butter shots for both men and Federer makes a mightily impressive start, thumping an ace for a love game.

0353: “Federer will win in 4. Still looks like it’s gonna be a Fed/Nadal final… again.”
From Tom via text

Federer 0-1 Berdych
Some wonderful defence from Berdych, including a running backhand winner, and a couple of aces see the Czech get off to a good start. It certainly pleases the massed ranks of Czech supporters on Rod Laver Arena, who have decided to take their shirts off and daub letters that I presume read ‘Tomas Berdych’ across their chests. Nice.

0340: Good morning. Lord knows what you’re doing up at this time on a Monday morning but I’m thankful that you are.

It’s hard to say how this one will go after seeing Federer taken to the very limit by Janko Tipsarevic on Saturday.

The world number one has a 5-1 record against Berdych and his only defeat came in their first meeting at the 2004 Olympic Games, which would suggest a straightforward win.

But 22-year-old Berdych is ranked 13 in the world and has been tipped for great things for a couple of years now.

It’s time for the Czech to make good on his obvious promise, could this be the day?

Story from BBC SPORT

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Berdych v Roddick as it happened

Flushing Meadows, New York, 27 August-9 September

US Open, Flushing Meadows Fourth round result:

A RODDICK (US) bt T BERDYCH (Cze)

7-6 (8-6) 2-0

* denotes server

By Sophie Brown

 

Second set

Berdych 0-2 Roddick
Well, folks, that’s it. Berdych slaps a forehand wide and then calls it a day. M was clearly right – he is feeling ill. Roddick goes through to the quarter-finals where he could face his nemesis Roger Federer.

“I can’t see Berdych playing the match through – from 5-3 up he looks weak and sweating. The guy has some kind of sickness for sure.”
M on 606

Berdych 0-1 Roddick
The doctor and trainer are out again to look at Berdych, who looks pretty disconsolate after losing that first set. Things don’t get any better as Roddick holds serve and then jogs cheerfully to change ends.

First set

Berdych 6-7 (6-8) Roddick
It’s a tie-break dominated by big first serves. A whipped forehand winner gives Berdych set point but he nets while trying the same shot on the next point. Another unforced error – this time on the backhand – and Roddick has set point. Berdych looks poised to save it after setting up the point perfectly but puts a simple forehand into the net.

Berdych 6-6 Roddick
The second love service game in a row from Roddick forces a tie-break. Roddick’s coach Jimmy Connors applauds enthusiastically in the crowd.

Berdych 6-5 Roddick
There’s quite a gusty wind in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which maybe explains the number of service breaks. Berdych holds comfortably. Why is no-one texting in?

Berdych 5-5 Roddick
Roddick holds serve to love, much to the delight of the partisan New York crowd.

Berdych 5-4 Roddick
Another break – is this a women’s match in disguise? Berdych drops his serve to love, including beginning with a double fault and then mistiming a forehand.

Berdych 5-3 Roddick
Berdych zaps a backhand return down the line to set up two more break points. Roddick then puts a backhand long and now Berdych is a break up.

Berdych 4-3 Roddick
Berdych is well and truly back on track in this opening set and looking much more confident as he holds comfortably.

Berdych 3-3 Roddick
Whatever those pills were, they seem to do the trick. Berdych puts more pressure on the Roddick serve and the American duly double-faults at break point to hand back his advantage in the first set.

Berdych 2-3 Roddick
Berdych holds serve. The trainer comes on and gives him some tablets. Maybe even he is getting a headache from that shirt.

Berdych 1-3 Roddick
A quickfire service game from Roddick. In less than a minute, he has increased his lead.

Berdych 1-2 Roddick
The good news for Berdych fans is that despite serving two consecutive double faults, the Czech manages to hold to win his first game. The bad news is that he calls for the trainer at the changeover.

Berdych 0-2 Roddick
Berdych is struggling to find his rhythm as Roddick holds. I hate to kick a man when he is already down but Berdych is wearing a terrible shirt – grey and yellow stripes with a dash of purple – it has a cheap ’80s look about it.

Berdych 0-1 Roddick
Big servers they may be but the first game contains several decent rallies. Berdych goes 30-0 up but then drops the next three points to go break-point down. A double fault gives Roddick the early break.

The players are due out on court shortly in what should be a big-serving shootout.

It’s the Labour Day holiday in the US and the home crowd will be in festive mood and right behind their man Roddick.

Story from BBC SPORT

Berdych vs Nadal as it happened

Wimbledon quarter-final result:

T BERDYCH (Cze) 7 v R NADAL (Spa) 2

5-7 (1-7) 4-6 2-6

* denotes server

THIRD SET

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 2-6 Nadal
Bish bash bosh – it’s all over. Berdych hands Nadal the perfect start with his 30th unforced error of the match and, having tugged his pants out of his backside for the umpteenth time in this match (what’s all that about?!), the Spaniard eases through the game before sealing it on another Berdych error. Easy peasy lemon squeezy for Nadal, who will face the winner of the Djokovic-Baghdatis clash on Court One.

“Rafael Nadal is not just a claycourt player. He’s proved himself unbeatable, literally, at Roland Garros, but on grass he is making a real believer out of me. He can win this tournament, without a doubt.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 2-5 Nadal
As a mark of their own boredom with this match, the crowd are barely even applauding or acknowledging the odd Berdych point, which is a little harsh I must say. The Czech moves to 40-15 up as he looks set to salvage some pride, but Nadal pulls out a couple of backhand winners to take it to deuce. A forehand winner brings up match point, but Berdych saves with an ace and goes on to hold. Dum de dum.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 1-5 Nadal
Berdych may have switched off, but Nadal continues to pull off some remarkable passing shots, none more so than a forehand winner on the run to kick off the game. And the Spaniard pulls another stunning winner out of the bag to seal the game and put him on the brink of a comfortable victory.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 1-4 Nadal
If there were any doubts before the match that a huge area of concern for Berdych is his mentality, they have been well and truly put to bed out on Centre Court. The Czech gifts Nadal a second break of the set with some tame serving and inaccurate groundstrokes, and it’s safe to say Federer and Ferrero can start kicking their pre-match preparations up a gear in the changing room.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 1-3 Nadal
It’s all too easy for Nadal, who holds to love with consummate ease.

“It’s so quiet out there now. There really isn’t a great deal of excitement or tension for the crowd to get hold of. It’s already about the next match for them. They’ve had enough of it, and so has Berdych it would seem.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 1-2 Nadal
Typically, Nadal takes things easier having already secured the all-important break, and Berdych holds. I don’t think even Berdych thinks he has a hope in this match anymore, though.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 0-2 Nadal
Nadal holds with Berdych looking increasingly keen to get off court and into the Wimbledon bar to drown his sorrows. Perhaps he could share a Mai-Tai with former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, who is in attendance on Centre Court. Unfortunately for any ladies out there hoping to make a move on the great man, he’s with his missus. On the other hand, she’s not looking as great as she used to, so maybe you’re in with a shot.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 0-1 Nadal
Just as he did in the second set, Berdych kicks off with a woeful service game. Error after error is punished by Nadal, while a couple of times the Czech fails even to land the ball in the court let alone within the tramlines. This turkey is cooked people.

SECOND SET

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-6 Nadal
The wind is approaching gale-force out on Centre Court, with John McEnroe sympathising with the players as they attempt to keep their game going. Nadal holds his nerve well to see out the game to 15, though, and I can’t see a way back for the Czech in this match.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 4-5 Nadal
Once again, with the pressure on Berdych, Nadal steps up his game brilliantly and only an admirable fightback from Berdych keeps the set alive. The Spaniard mixes a forehand winner with another couple of fine approaches to earn two break points, but two big Berdych forehands bring it back to deuce. The Czech then manoeuvres his opponent superbly around the court to take the next two points and keep his hopes of a semi-final place just about alive.

“Berdych showed great heart there to save that game and he has a little bit of momentum now. Can he hold his nerve and take his chances this game, though.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 3-5 Nadal
More wasted opportunities for Berdych, who brings out a couple of unforced errors to allow Nadal to ease through the stress of a 30-30 situation and hold comfortably. To say that the atmosphere on Centre Court is somewhat subdued is as redundant as saying that Mr Dirs’ parents didn’t quite think through their choice of “Ben” as his Christian name. My parents, on the other hand, had the good grace not to call me “Rory”, “Leo-The” or “Sea”, though apparently it was a close call.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 3-4 Nadal
Berdych holds to 15 with a series of big serves, but not without Nadal serving a reminder of his own prowess at the net with another volleyed winner. Berdych sees out the game by nearly taking a ball boy out with a booming serve, and that’s just not British. You wouldn’t get Tim Henman slamming a ball at a ball boy/girl would you?! Oh right, hold on…

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 2-4 Nadal
A glimmer for Berdych as Nadal double faults to hand the Czech the initiative at 15-30. The Spaniard responds with a forehand winner and a well-crafted rally, though, and Berdych fails to make further inroads.

“This is what is disappointing – the sense of inevitability of this match. It’s like Berdych is allowing this to happen, allowing Nadal to get to him.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 2-3 Nadal
Another important hold for Berdych to 30 and the weather is improving by the minute. Cue torrents of rain, thunder and lightning any minute, I’m sure, but it’s starting to look a bit like summer out there. Poo to all those meteorologists who claim we’re in for a ‘summer of rain’ say I, who’s with me!

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 1-3 Nadal
John McEnroe is less than impressed with Berdych’s game at the moment, with the Czech clearly still rattled by that tie-break loss. Nadal mixes groundstroke winners with a couple of volleys on his way to another easy hold to love.

“That’s another part of Nadal’s game that just keeps getting better and better, the volley. He really is developing the whole package.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 1-2 Nadal
Good work from Berdych, holding off Nadal’s charge with a hold to 15, including two aces. A crucial game to win that, and, with the sun creeping through at Wimbledon, the crowd is slowly beginning to resemble something like capacity. Bootiful.

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 0-2 Nadal
Nadal approaches the net for a rare overhead winner on his way to a comfortable hold. The Spaniard’s freakishly disproportioned left arm is really pumping here, sending down a 131mph ace, and Berdych has got to cast his demons aside and find a way back into this match quickly.

David Mercer: “What’s this?! Bright sunshine…and shadows!”
John McEnroe, in reply: “You cannot be serious!” (ba dom boom boom)

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) 0-1 Nadal
Disastrous start for Berdych who errs on a couple of forehands to hand Nadal three break points, before finding the net again to gift the Spaniard the game.

“Berdych has got to know that Nadal is going to step it up again here, he has to show what he is made of. Instead, he’s providing Nadal with a nice early Christmas present as we speak.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

FIRST SET

Berdych 6-7 (1-7) Nadal
Nadal, one of the best front-runners in the modern game, eases through the breaker as Berdych falters on his returns once again. The Spaniard pulls off two aces on his way to a 5-0 lead, brings out a bit of gamesmanship at the turn with a lengthy drinks break, and eventually secures the tie-break with a bludgeoned forehand.

Berdych 6-6 Nadal
Nadal steps it up nicely with the threat of tie-break looming large, bringing out two big backhands to go 30-0 up on the Berdych serve. The Czech responds with an ace, an unreturnable serve and a forehand winner on his way to a hold and it will be a first-set breaker. Worryingly, there’s a bit of rain in the air…

Berdych 5-6 Nadal
We’re headed for a tie-break fast here it would seem, with Nadal bringing out his own boomers on serve and firing the occasional groundstroke winner to hold to 30.

“Looking at the court, which is still brilliant green by the net, proves one thing – gone are the days of the serve-and-volley player. Even Roger Federer mixes it up these days, and these two are as reluctant as anyone to come in on their serve.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 5-5 Nadal
Well, after a slow start we’re positively racing along now as Berdych serves out another comfortable hold. I’ve barely had time to attack my late-morning brew….grrr…

Berdych 4-5 Nadal
For anyone just joining me from the Live Wimbledon Clockwatch, clearly I shall do my best to live up to the billing granted me by my colleague Piers Newbery of “relatively amusing”. Reminds me of a colleague who was less than over the moon to have all his blood, sweat and tears at work detailed as “meets expectations” in his annual review. After describing Mr Dirs as a “vulture” the other day, clearly Newbery does not appreciate the finer art of sports-commentary-come-comedy that we’re making our own here at BBC towers. Anyway, Nadal serves out his first love game with Berdych struggling to make his returns.

Berdych 4-4 Nadal
More of a rhythm to things now out on Centre, with Berdych finally arching his back into his serve and doing his best to keep Nadal out of the points. It works as he holds to 15.

Berdych 3-4 Nadal
Ooh, a bit of sun on Centre Court! Nadal is clearly thrown after two weeks of rain and sends a flier into the crowd that some fella manfully ducks out the way of so that it smashes his missus in the chest. He then makes it worse by laughing at her, tremendous. He’ll pay for that later. Berdych, meanwhile, puts pressure on Nadal’s serve well to battle back from 0-30 down to break point up, but errs after a net cord is kind to the Spaniard. Nadal goes on to hold.

Berdych 3-3 Nadal
No such slow tactics from Berdych, who races through to a love game with more rockets on his serve. The Czech is slowly kicking that into gear, with three aces so far.

“With all the breaks in play that have occurred these past two weeks, I can only credit the players for how well they are performing match after match. It must be so tough and yet they keep producing.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 2-3 Nadal
Man alive, Nadal loves a break between points doesn’t he. The Spaniard practically puts his feet up with a hot cuppa soup between every serve, which is more than a little annoying for someone like me who considers a fast game a good game. Anyway, it does its jobs in game five as he holds comfortably to 15.

Berdych 2-2 Nadal
More trouble on Berdych’s serve, Nadal scrambling back to 30-30 with a couple of pressure groundstrokes, but the Czech brings out a couple of booming serves to hold. It’s about time too, because Berdych has a first-serve percentage of just 42 at the moment.

Berdych 1-2 Nadal
No sign of early needle between these two which is a shame, not least because the crowd remains sparse at this early hour(!) of the morning. I mean, it’s half past 11 people, what are you, students? Anyway, Berdych gets his backhand going nicely to bring up two break-back chances and he takes the second with a fabulous forehand on the run. We’re back on serve.

“Berdych can go all the way to the top of the game. He’s got all the tools, he’s trading shots with Nadal – one of the best passers in the game – and if he can conquer his nerves, he is on track to be a top, top player.”
BBC Sport pundit John McEnroe

Berdych 0-2 Nadal
Nadal brings a couple of returns right out of the top drawer to move to 30-0 on Berdych’s serve, and sizzles a crosscourt forehand to bring up two break points at 40-15. He takes the second following another fine return, and it’s not just Nadal who will be sweating on his serve this match it seems.

Berdych 0-1 Nadal
Shaky start from Nadal, sending down a couple of big serves and one excellent backhand pass, before suffering in the wind and serving a double fault to let Berdych back in. The Czech dominates the next rally to move to deuce and earns break point with a couple of fine whipped forehands. Nadal saves it, and then another a point later with an ace, before eventually holding with a well-disguised drop shot. Hotly-contested opener, that, and already a few murmurs that Nadal will have to dig deep on his serve.

1113: Right people, here we go… hold on to your hats. Not least because they will probably blow away in the vicious winds of SW19.

1111: Co-commentating alongside David Mercer for this match on BBC1 is the legendary John McEnroe – surely the hardest working pundit in the land these past two weeks. Need a pundit? Step forward Johnny boy. What’s that, rain break? Wheel out the Mac. Meet the sponsors? Bring on Macca. Serve the lunch queue in the canteen? Get moving McEnroe! Love it.

1104: The players are out and warming up, which might take a while given that it’s more than a little parky out on Centre Court. Not that it has stopped Nadal sporting his traditional sleeveless top effort, bless him. Berdych on the other hand, in his first ever Grand Slam quarter-final, is decked out in hat, scarf, gloves and top coat. Almost.

1058 BST These two have met five times before, with Berdych edging the head-to-head 3-2. All three of those victories came on the harder, faster surfaces and the Czech is in confident mood, telling our very own Caroline Cheese: “My biggest advantage is the grass.”

We could have a bit of needle on Centre Court, though, with the pair sharing a bit of ‘history’. Apparently Berdych greeted a win over Nadal in Madrid last year but putting his finger to his lips in a gesture towards Nadal. The Spaniard added afterwards that Berdych “looked at me with not a very friendly face”. Altogether now…”ooooooooohhh!”.

1052 BST: Well stone the crows, it looks like we might just have an uninterrupted day’s play today, fingers crossed. Rafael Nadal continues his one-man show in SW19 by kicking of the day’s play against “official commentary box four dark horse” Tomas Berdych. It will be the Spaniard’s fifth straight day in action, but the 21-year-old laughs in the face of the weather and the Wimbledon schedulers! Erm, in a kind of moans-about-it-at-every-opportunity-but-still-keeps-winning type way.

French Open – Roland Garros – Men to watch

 

EurosportTue, 22 May 00:52:00 2007

French Open – Believe it or not, a Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer French Open final is not necessarily ordained from above. Jeremy Stahl runs through the list of contenders who stand a chance on the red-hot clay at this year’s Roland Garros.

TENNIS 2007 Battle of the Surfaces Roger Federer Rafael Nadal - 0

Rafael Nadal – The odds-on bet

We would be loathe not to mention the two-time defending champion as the easy favourite to defend his crown. The world number two is coming off of the heels of his first defeat on the slow dirt in more than two years, but his loss to Roger Federer in the Hamburg final takes nothing away from the Spaniard’s record-breaking 81-match win streak on clay. In addition to having a perfect record in his two years at Roland Garros, Rafa has yet to have even been pushed to a fifth set at Paris. Three titles in four claycourt tournaments in 2007 bode well for the 20-year-old man-child from Majorca.

Roger Federer – To be the greatest…..

From John McEnroe to Andre Agassi, the general consensus among tennis’ now wise (once wild) men is that Roger Federer needs to win the French Open and become the sixth man to achieve the Slam in order to challenge for the mantle of “greatest-of-all-time.” After a previously disappointing claycourt season, Fed-ex won his first clay title of the spring in Hamburg. More importantly, the Swiss Slam machine overcame one of his biggest goblins of the past two years and beat Rafael Nadal on clay for the first time in six tries. Though Federer had been coy about his Roland Garros hopes, the world number one is clearly anxious to get over the final hurdle of a brilliant career on the burning red dirt of Paris.

Fernando Gonzalez – Gonzo-mania strikes again?

The fifth ranked Chilean starts the French Open as the most credible challenger to the world number one and the two-time defending champion, having already reached the final of one Grand Slam and a claycourt Masters series this year. The man whose red-hot Oz Open run was only ended by an unstoppable Federer in the final, also reached the final of the Rome Masters before being trounced by Nadal. If he can somehow avoid the top-two in the draw, another Gonzo Grand Slam final is a distinct possibility in Paris.

Novak Djokovic – The other young gun

The Serbian starlet, who turned 20-years-old a week before the start of this year’s French Open, has not quite rivalled Rafa Nadal as the best young player on the ATP Tour this year, but he has come close. Djokovic, third in the 2007 ATP Points Race behind only Federer and Nadal, won titles in Adelaide and Estoril, and beat Rafa on his way to a Miami Masters crown in a brilliant first-half of the season. He reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Roland Garros before retiring hurt down to sets to eventual winner Nadal, but after gaining more experience against Rafa at the Rome, Miami, and Indian Wells Masters, is in the best-possible position to challenge his top-ten 20-year-old peer.

Nikolay Davydenko – Looks good on paper

A perennial Grand Slam quarter-finalist, the Russian had his best-ever finish at Roland Garros in 2005 losing to Mariano Puerta in the semi-finals. Despite his third consecutive quarter-finals appearance at the Australian Open this January, Davydenko’s 2007 had been anything but impressive with several first and second round exits. But then the world number four nearly showed what he is nearly capable of by nearly beating Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters in a semi-final epic. Nearly will not be good enough at Roland Garros, however.

Guillermo Canas – The upset specialist

Returning to the ATP circuit from a 15-month doping suspension last fall, the Argentine gained a more positive notoriety this spring by beating world number one Roger Federer in two consecutive tournaments. Canas has the quickness and defensive agility to challenge the world’s best on the slow surface, as he proved in his encore victory over Federer in a thrilling 7-6(2) 2-6 7-6(5) victory at the Miami Masters. Having already beaten former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero on clay to win the Brazil Open, Canas went onto reach the finals in Barcelona before succumbing to Nadal. But only one victory in his last three tournaments means “El Gigantico Killero” has cooled heading into Paris.

Lleyton Hewitt and Carlos Moya – The old school

Though both the Australian and the Spaniard have faded significantly since their respective runs at the top of the world rankings, back in November 2001 and March 1999 respectively, both Hewitt and Moya have surged into this year’s French Open. The former US Open and Wimbledon champion Hewitt struggled after winning the Las Vegas Open in February, but demonstrated shades of his former attacking greatness against Nadal in the semi-finals at Hamburg before losing 6-2 3-6 5-7 to the Spaniard. Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, also started the season strong with a title on clay in Acapulco in February, before struggling up until an impressive Hamburg run, which was ended by eventual champion Roger Federer in a thrilling 6-4 4-6 2-6 semi-final. Between the 30-year-old Moya and the 26-year-old Hewitt, you have to give the edge to the Australian.

David Nalbandian – The long-shot

Another really strong contender on paper, Nalbandian reached his second Roland Garros semi-finals appearance in 2006 before retiring against world number one Roger Federer. The big-hitting 25-year-old has disappointed this season with only one quarter-finals appearance at Barcelona, but is capable of beating anybody in the world as he showed at the Masters Cup final against Federer in 2005. Prone to unforced errors and on-court nervous break-downs the hot-blooded Argentine has all the potential to win the French Open, but probably lacks the mental toughness to go all the way.

Philipp Kohlschreiber – The really, really long-shot

The 23-year-old German could turn a few heads and cause a couple of upsets at Paris, if he continues the form that has seen him to a career-best ranking of 32nd in the world. Kohlschreiber, a natural dirt-baller, won his first-career title on the clay at Munich last month. He pushed Rafa Nadal to four sets before losing to the Spaniard in the second round of the Australian Open, and reached the quarter-finals at Monte Carlo before falling to the eventual champion Nadal yet again. The added experience against the world number two could very well work to his advantage.

And the rest….

Andy Roddick, James Blake, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Robredo, Tomas Berdych, and Tommy Haas are threats in any major tournament, while claycourt specialists Juan Ignacio Chela, Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer could also do some damage.

Nadal’s king, but these 5 can usurp the throne

Matthew Cronin / FOXSports.com

Breaking news! Rafael Nadal can be beat on clay — at least once every two years.

But despite his three-set loss to top-ranked Roger Federer in the Hamburg final, the Spaniard is still the favorite to win his third consecutive French Open title and become the first man since all-time great Bjorn Borg to pull off a triple. Here are the five best bets to take his title:

  • Roger Federer: Muddled in his longest slump since he became No. 1, Federer scraped and clawed his way to his third Hamburg title, needing three sets to overcome Juan Monaco, David Ferrer and Carlos Moya. Then in the final against Nadal, whom he had never beaten in five attempts on clay, he rediscovered his ferocious backhand, stepped further inside the court with his backhand to pick up the Spaniard’s high bouncing balls earlier and hit straight through his exhausted foe.Even though it was clear that Nadal had finally lost his legs after an amazing 81-match win streak on clay, the victory was a much-needed boost of confidence for Federer, who now believes that if he finds the zone, continues to hit out, serves huge and returns intelligently, that his chase of the calendar year Grand Slam is no quixotic quest. But if Federer is to win his first Roland Garros crown, he must play cleanly through his first five matches because he doesn’t want to enter the final weekend with tread-worn wheels.
  • Novak Djokovic: The hottest young player on tour has found his feet on clay and is looking all the part of a top five player this year. John McEnroe loves this guy’s composure and how he goes after the ball. He’s beaten Nadal on hardcourts, and he won Warsaw on clay.Interestingly, even though he’s a Serbian who has slid on plenty of clay courts in his life, Djokovic prefers faster surfaces. But he’s a good mover who can launch his forehand and rarely backs off the ball against elite players. He just turned 20 and is still a little immature, but unlike some of the veterans, he doesn’t fear Rafa or Roger. He’ll get after it, which is a sure sign of a future Slam champ.
  • Nikolay Davydenko: Hurt much of the year, the Russian rebounded in Rome with a semifinal appearance and a near win over Nadal. If he can find motivation — and find some heart — he’s a decent threat to reach the French Open semis (and maybe the final if Fed fizzles). He’s the tour’s most unknown top-5 player, but is a true backboard with pop and savvy.
  • Fernando Gonzalez: The Chilean slumped after the Australian Open final, overplaying and frequently losing his composure. The 26-year-old has huge weapons and a much-improved backhand, but he can be impatient and lose his focus. On clay, that’s a death sentence.Gonzo did revive himself at the Italian Open, reaching the final, but Nadal ran circles around him there and in Hamburg. If he can avoid the Spaniard until late in the tournament and catches fire, he can upset anyone on a great day. But he needs to show the same spunk he did Down Under.
  • Guillermo Canas: After a lengthy doping suspension, the veteran Argentine has run an incredible race back into top 25, grinding nearly every week since last fall and taking Federer down twice at Indian Wells and Miami.In his six appearances at Roland Garros, he’s played nine monstrous five-setters, winning five of them. Even though he can stay on court for eons, Canas has to be more of a risk-taker this year if he’s to pass the quarterfinals. Playing possum isn’t going to cut it as the tournament wears on.While the ATP Tour isn’t deep at the top level of the game, it’s near fathomless with men who have quarterfinal possibilities. Here are 10 other men who can reach the French Open final eight:
  • Graceful Spaniard Tommy Robredo
  • The talented yet erratic French hopeful Richard Gasquet
  • Czech powerballer Tomas Berdych
  • Argentine veteran David Nalbandian
  • Tireless Spaniard David Ferrer
  • The improving Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela
  • 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero
  • The up-and-down Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis
  • Argentine teen Juan Martin Del Potro
  • And two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.Unless they receive a very sweet draw, don’t expect American top 10ers Andy Roddick and James Blake to reach the second week. They are bedeviled by the dirt.
  • Madrid Masters: Berdych powers to Nadal victory

    Berdych powers to Nadal victory

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    Tomas Berdych caused a surprise with a straight-sets win over world number two Rafael Nadal to reach the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters.

    The 21-year-old Czech number one silenced the partisan crowd with a 6-3 7-6 victory for his third consecutive win over the Spaniard.

    He will play Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez in the last four after the 10th seed beat Serb Novak Djokovic 7-5 5-7 7-5.

    David Nalbandian meets world number one Roger Federer in the other semi-final.

    Berdych was in superb form, holding his serve with confidence and then taking his opportunities to break his opponent.

    The 21-year-old, who beat sixth-seed Andy Roddick on his way to the quarters, looked on target for another win when he eased his way to the first set.

    The 10,000 strong crowd got behind Nadal in the second set, but Berdych kept his cool to keep up the pressure and win through after a nail-biting tie-break.

    “More important than the victory was the fact that I showed I can beat him at home in Spain,” said the 11th-seeded Berdych.

    “I like his game and was happy to use the advantage of the hard court to win.”