By Alexandra Willis at the O2 Arena
24 November 2010
There are few more enjoyable players to watch than Andy Roddick on a good day. There is a calmness of purpose the way the American rushes around the court, a comfort in his abrupt service motion, not to mention the wow factor at the sheer force of his shots. All of this was on display as the 2003 US Open champion began his match against Tomas Berdych in the second round robin matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Czech, eight places behind Roddick on the year’s aces leaderboard, had sleepwalked through his first group match against Novak Djokovic, a shadow of the man that defeated Roger Federer at Wimbledon this year.
Hitching his shirt up over his shoulders in trademark fashion, Roddick always looked the more likely to carve out an opening in this afternoon’s serve-off. And so it proved, the American hitting two rocket returns to the bottom of Berdych’s 6ft 5ins frame to bring up two set points at 5-4 in the opening set. But, in a manner that eluded Andy Murray at the hands of Roger Federer yesterday, that position proved to be the Czech’s salvation. Rushing the net like Usain Bolt, Berdych dug a half volley out of the ground to hold serve, and hand the boot back to Roddick.
Rattled by the missed opportunity, the 28-year-old’s consistency deserted him, and the first set, which he’d had one hand on, was Berdych’s, 7-5. The second set went the way of the first in the early stages, but the American’s head had deserted him. The Czech by contrast was bouncing around with renewed vigour, stepping into each of his 28 winners, notching up 90% of points on his first serve. Serving at 2-2, Roddick missed a forehand down the line on break point, smashed racket on foot, and, in response to a code violation, reminded the umpire in his usual humorous tones that it was his racket, and his foot.
The match was Berdych’s from that moment, and he soared to his first win at these season-ending championships, 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes.
“I don’t think he came into the match with a lot of confidence,” said Roddick, “Being able to get through that definitely raised his confidence level. He played well in the second set. I’ve beaten him three times this year, six overall, I have a pretty good idea what to do. Now, if you don’t execute it then it makes most game plans look stupid.”
“None of these matches are easy,” said Berdych. “Especially against Andy, I played him this year three times, all three times he won. You can have a match that you almost not even touch his serve. But I was able to return better in the second set. The result was that I made the two breaks. That’s what I need to do, return good, be aggressive, serving well. That’s it.” Berdych will now face Rafael Nadal in his final round robin match. “For me it’s the best schedule – to playing maybe possibly the last match of the season against the world No.1, or, if I can do well, then to beat the No.1 player in the world and have a chance to stay longer in this tournament. Playing Rafa it’s always a great experience. So we will see.”
Tomorrow at the O2 sees Federer face Robin Soderling in the afternoon, followed by Murray against David Ferrer. Berdych will meet Nadal on Friday, while Roddick will take on Djokovic.
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