Tomas Berdych defeated Fabio Fognini to move into the quarter-finals of the 2015 Rome Masters Open and now will face the Swiss maestro Roger Federer. Berdych worked hard for his win and the match took two and a half hours resulting in his victory 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2).
The sixth seed saved eight of the 10 break points he faced to claim his 32nd win of the season, highlighted by runner-up showings in Monte-Carlo (l. to Djokovic), Rotterdam (l. to Wawrinka) and Doha (l. to Ferrer).
Interestingly enough, even though Rafael Nadal beat Berdych in the 2015 Madrid Open semi-finals, if he manages to beat Federer, Nadal will no longer be in the top four seeds at Roland Garros aka 2015 French Open.
Berdych has been called the underachieving tennis player with plenty of promise by our own Shane Lambert with good reason. He’s moved up to the number five position in the tennis rankings, but part of this was also due to Rafael Nadal stumble this season. Here’s the overview Lambert gave on the Czech player.
With that in mind, when looking ahead it is hard to picture the Czech No. 1 picking up any elusive titles of significant prestige. To date, Berdych has only claimed one Masters Series title, that coming from Paris in 2005. Furthermore, The Birdman has a weak record against the top players on tour – players that he would likely need to beat to claim any prestigious titles in the months ahead.
Let’s take a look at how Berdych has done against some of those rivals.
Conversely, Berdych has enjoyed some success against Andy Murray, however none of the Czech’s six wins over the Scot have come in a semifinal or later. That means that, even when Berdych has defeated Murray, the current World No. 7 has still had to deal with other late round obstacles.
Berdych has also enjoyed a little bit of success against Roger Federer. The Czech star is 6-13 against the Swiss Maestro, not a bad tally against the player considered to be the best ever. However in championship finals, it has always been Federer who has owned the podium. He defeated Berdych, most noteably, in the championship match of the blue clay fiasco, otherwise known as the 2012 Madrid Masters.
But even if Berdych were to solve Murray consistently in the year ahead and even if Federer were to just flat out retire then Berdych’s major nemesis would still remain: Novak Djokovic.
Berdych has only found a way to solve the Serb in two of their twenty matches to date, sad commentary for those hoping to see the Czech claim major titles in the year ahead. It is worth noting that one of Berdych’s victories over Djokovic was in the biggest match the two players contested against one another, the 2010 Wimbledon semifinals. However it is worth counter-noting that Djokovic had not yet ascended to his very-very best tennis when he and Berdych met at the All England Club.
Another major obstacle, besides Nadal, Murray, Federer, and Djokovic, that the Czech star will have to deal with as his playing years dwindle is the remaining field of players. Younger stars like Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, and maybe even David Goffin appear to be more talented than Berdych. Raonic and Nishikori, as examples, already outrank Berdych – when the other younger players emerge the Czech player will have all the more obstacles to clear if he is to win a Masters Series title or Grand Slam.
Personally, I think that those prestigious titles are all but out of reach now for Berdych now. I would look for the Czech to continue to work hard toward his goals. Accordingly, he should continue to pull off occasional upsets in the quarters of big tournaments here and there.
However don’t expect the Czech star to claim another Masters Series event and don’t expect to see him in the final of a Grand Slam. He has rarely had the energy in the late stages of the big tournaments and the 2015 Australian Open is a case in point.