Berdych Needs to Step Up to Beat Roddick
by Sean Randall | September 3rd, 2007, 1:00 pm

What’s better than a little US Open tennis on my day off courtesy of the Labor Day Holiday here in the U.S.? Well, ta few things comes to mind but for now I’ll tune in for the Tomas Berdych Andy Roddick match on CBS. ADHEREL

On paper, both players are pretty similar – big serves, big forehands. Berdych has the better backhand while Roddick gets my edge in movement, experience and intangibles. But for my money Berdych is the more complete player and this match is one he should win. It’s about time for this big man from the Czech to finally break through for a major win in a Slam.

That said it’s really hard to pick against Andy at the Open.  Let’s see what happens.

The second men’s match is somewhat similar. Tommy Haas is a better player than James Blake, but like Roddick, it’s hard to bet against James at the Open, especially against a flaky guy like Haas. If the real Haas shows up he should win as Blake really hasn’t looked that sharp in his three wins plus he’s playing in the sun for the first time in two matches.

So who the heck had Juan Monaco or Ernests Gulbis in the final 16? Or Juan Chela or Stan Wawrinka? I didn’t. Obviously Djokovic and Nadal are the easy favorites i the bottom half, but should one stumble we’ll have a real surprise semifinalist.
I could see Ferrer upsetting Nadal and even Chela giving Rafa a lot of trouble, while Djoko, if healthy, should have no problems navigating to the semifinals now that Lleyton Hewitt is out.

Well, so much for Berdych winning the first set – he’s already down a break to Roddick and mired in double faults in the wind. And now the trainer appears…

As for the women, looks like the winner of the Serena-Henin encounter will take the title over Kuznetsova in the final. I stick with my Henin pick.

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35 Comments for Berdych Needs to Step Up to Beat Roddick

Sean Randall Says:

So much for stepping up. Sounds like Berdych stepped up to too much bad food causing him to retire against Roddick. Gagging that tiebreaker certainly didn’t help Berdych’s stomach or whatever the ailment was.

Looks like we get that Federer-Roddick now, and also to note Blake will have to play a 3pm-ish match after having played past midnight in his prior two matches. That won’t help James.

jane Says:

Berydch is yet another talented, young player who seems fragile, whether physically or mentally, much like Gasquet, and even like Baggy, who mentally implodes sometimes too. Murray is often moody as well.

That’s why Djok is the break out young guy – he’s so focused and mentally up. He perseveres. I think he would’ve beaten Hewitt too, though it may have gone 5. He was razor sharp last night.

jane Says:

I agree that Blake might struggle in the daylight, and now he’s going on much earlier than planned.

Tennis Fan Says:

I would be careful and watch my food and drink for the next few hours if I was Federer. Just a little suspicious that the biggest two competitors in the quarter of the draw on a collison course would Roddick would develop mysterious flu symptoms that caused them to withdraw just prior to or during their matches … I know that the people that run the US Open want to see Roddick play (or not play?) Federer in the quarters …but lets see if Roddick can make it under his own steam. Berdych is a very skilled player … he is young and was in good health… and very likely to knock off Roddick today. This looks awfully suspicious… and the comments from the CBS Commentators during the match were exceptionally ignorant …suggesting that Berdych needed a psychiatrist instead of a doctor while the kid was obviously in physical distress and upset he wasn’t able to compete for the cup. This is a sad day for tennis … and should be properly investigated! I wonder what’s going to happen next??

Sean Randall Says:

Ha. The conspiracy theorists have come out!

TennisFan, was Thomas Johansson also ill? If so maybe you are onto something. Will Tommy Haas also withdraw or cramp like Santoro??

Regardless looks like we’ll get that much-anticipated Roger Federer-Andy Roddick showdown Wednesday night.

Darko Says:

Clearly TennisFan has a point Sean, Johansson isnt in the same level as Berdych and Gasquet. These two had a real chance of getting pass Roddick, maybe not the USOpen organizators, but someone else…

Tennis Fan Says:

It not a full blown conspiracy theory yet … that would probably require one or two more strategic “mysterious flu-like symptoms” to develop. Santoro & Johansson aren’t ranked players … and I don’t seem to recall any “mysterious flu-like symptoms” in their case.

I know many people are interested in a Federer-Roddick matchup …but honestly I think a Berdych-Federer matchup would have been a better contest.

Nadal is starting to play much better, but I don’t give him good chances against a healthy Djokovic on hard court.

So I expect a Federer-Djokovic final (a very close contest) … unless “mysterious illness” intervenes.

zeg Says:

Sean –
From the looks of it, there’s not going to be much of a showdown. I doubt Roddick will even take a set. Sure, Andy’s serve is working, but not much else. Roger, OTOH, looks golden.

jane Says:

I really don’t think there are any conspiracies – although with the whole Davydenko scandal, those thoughts do enter one’s head. In addition, this has been an exceptionally weird/volatile tournament so far, with injuries, cramping, “flu-like” symptoms, and retiring.

Berydch called a trainer at 2-2 so he was obviously not feeling well before he got on the courts. But he couldn’t play his best game against Nadal at Wimbledon too, and it was windy there as well, which makes me think there was a nervous element involved.

This may hurt Roddick – he’s not had much match prep other than against Johanson. Mind you Federer has played only low-ranked players, but at least he’s played full matches.

Sean Randall Says:

Zeg, for general American fans Federer-Roddick would garner more interest than Federer-Nadal. What will be interesting is see how much hype the match gets from the likes of Pmac and others in the media. At the Australian I recall Pmac predicting Roddick to beat Fed, let’s see if he makes that same prediction again, though he may not have to as CBS will not be televising the match.

As I write Haas unable to serve out the second set (not a surprise), now Blake struggling at 0-40 and now gets broken at 15. What a flaky match! Haas gets the slight momentum edge, but that’s it. Truly a toss up from here in the windy conditions.

Tennis Fan Says:

Apparently Berdych has gone to a hospital for blood tests … he must think that it was more than a bout of the nerves. I wonder if we will get to hear any more about the diagnosis?

zeg Says:

True about the hype – and there’s ample time to promote it as the de-facto final. I wonder if CBS may attempt to hijack the match’s broadcast.
As for p.mac – I don’t think much of him – but perhaps even he has learned (temporarily) not to make inane predictions.

Blake looks the fresher of the two, playing with some surprising flashes of brilliance. Tommy gets my vote in the “guts department” though.

Tennis Fan Says:

An entertaining match between Haas & Blake …but I haven’t seen any tournaments recently where the players choked on so many consecutive points back to each other.

Does anyone know if Federer is able to play tonight? … just kidding

Darko Says:

Haas has the upper hand, back with the conspiracy, it is clear that the Berdych thing is awkward, the nerves thing at this level causing those symptoms is unheard of. Obviously Fed hasnt had any top ranked player so far, its just the 4th round! Even so, his rivals had been interesting, and he’s been playing flawlessly at the Open, so Roddick has even less chances that last year.

grendel Says:

Sean – not only did Berdych have set point on his own serve in tiebreaker, but he served for the set at 5-3, and lost (deservedly) to love.

The fact of his being poorly is not relevant – since, after all, he undeniably got to 5-3 and, furthermore, looked much the better player whilst so doing.

Berdych can no longer be called a young hopeful. The years slip by. This Olympian athlete with the beautiful game thickens and slows until, almost without noticing, nobody any more expects anything much of him. A 3rd round, perhaps, 4th maybe if things go his way.

Nature is cruel to those who don’t fulfil their godgiven talent.

Darko Says:

I agree with Grendel, Berdych has stopped to be a promiseful talent, but that has nothing to do with the mysterious outgoings. Specially Gasquet, he reached Wimbledon SF with spectacular playing, I doubt Roddick could have prefer him again after their Wimbledon QF match

Sean Randall Says:

Big ups to Haas for being able to close that match out against Blake. And that 3-3 point in the final tiebreak was incredible – TWO topspin lob backhands, the second being the winner was just too good. Hard to blame Blake for folding after that – I think I would have too!

From what it sounds there’s no clear diagnosis of the Berdych ailment. He said it started when the match started so clearly his nerves or the “moment” got the best of him. Sounds like he almost had some sort of mild panic attack. Perhaps more details will come on that from Thomas himself.

But for Roddick it’s tough in that he basically should have lost that first set to a guy who was ailing. That’s not a good sign for Wednesday night.

Tennis Fan Says:

grendel – True to your name … you are an antagonist! Your comments re: Berdych are simply horse-do. Berdych did not “deserve to lose the match”. He would have given Roddick a very tough challenge (in fact I expected he might win)if he hadn’t been hit by “mysterious illness”. It was quite obvious he was ill in the first set and didn’t even have the energy to go after some easy balls… although he pushed the set to a break point before collapsing. Berdych is 21 years old (not exactly at the point of “slowing down”) … and this kid has the potential to win a slam … Roddick does not.

grendel Says:

Tennis Fan, I didn’t say Berdych “deserved to lose the match”. I said he deservedly lost the game to love when he was serving for the set – i.e. Roddick did nothing particularly to win it, Berdych just fell apart, as he so often does in these circumstances.

Berdych has “the potential to win a slam”? Absolutely – if he can get his head together. It’s distressing the way he doesn’t seem to change in this respect. Perhaps a new coach might help.

Sean – on that 3-3 point in the Haas/Blake match you mention, the two great lobs were by Haas, but Blake’s return of the first one was almost as impressive. Hope Haas isn’t worn out for his match with the Russian “tennis playing machine”. If he manages to come through that one, a very entertaining match in prospect with Fed. Haas can do everything, just like Fed – but he has strange lapses. You think he’s a world beater and he suddenly looks mortal.For a few games, even agianst Federer, you’ll think, Jesus, perhaps he’s going to win…. And then…..

Sean Randall Says:

Grendel, true. Black did a heck of a job getting that first one back. But Haas’s second lob was one of the best shots i’ve seen all year. If Blake wins that point in that circumstance (Haas had good control of the point) then I think Blake wins that match.

Keep in mind Haas and Davy have had a few five setters in Slams with Haas winning in OZ and Davy last year at US Open if my memory is correct. Davy hasn’t lost a set yet while Haas has won two straight five setters. They’ll play under the sun Wednesday so that should favor Davy but right now I’ll take Haas, subject to change of course!

Back to Berdych, yes he’s still young so no need to give up on him just yet. Most players really don’t hit their “peak” until 24/25.

Tennis Fan Says:

hail Federer!

jane Says:

OMG Tennis Fan!

Sounds like a fascist salute! Of course, some Federer fans are rather extreme, militant, and/or intolerant.

Credit to Lopez for playing a fantastic 1st set and a darn good 2nd one too.

Tennis Fan Says:

Absolutely, Lopez played incredibly well in the first two sets. It was just amazing how Federer somehow managed to win the second … when it felt like he was being outplayed all of way through … how does he do it. He’s got nerves of steel and will be tough to beat.

Daniel Says:

Have you all noted that Federer hasn’t made more than 12 unforced errors in his matches. He is playing one of the best tournaments so far, even when pushed by big serves, which can give us a clue about Roddicks match.

If he keeps playing like this I don’t see Djoko (even in 110%) or a 80 or 90 % Nadal (assuming he keeps getting better) beating him in the Final.

This one is taken! Lets prepare for the masters in Shanghai and see which side Djoko will be.

jane Says:


Federer does seem to be playing “cleaner” than in the last two Masters Series tournaments.

But I wonder if Federer’s low error count has something to do with, that (a), until last night, he hadn’t played a player ranked higher than 120, and that (b), thus far he’s mainly had to face “big servers” and so hasn’t been in too many long rallies, other than in the Capdeville match perhaps. Admittedly Lopez isn’t known as a “big server” but that was certainly his weapon last night. Roddick will be another “big server” for Federer to face.

It’ll be interesting to see if Federer can keep down the errors when he meets, say, a Nadal or something. Only time will tell.

Daniel Says:

I am hoping for Nadal and Djoko to win their matches fast, like they did in previous rounds, so when they meet, we can have an excellent match, and the winner could face Federer in shape.

It will be interesting to see Djoko x Moya and how Djoko will behave after Cincy.

In the other hand, Ferrer who is having a great tournment can push Nadal. If this happens, Nadal can feel his knees and get compromised in the semis, since I believe neither Wawrika nor Chela can give him trouble.

I am anxious for the final to see if Fed can keep his awesome level of play against his “only” rivals.

jane Says:


Yep – it will be interesting to see how Moya and Djokovic match up, presuming Djok gets by Monaco this afternoon. Moya’s playing well so far, and has eliminated the Latvian teen mystery, so we’ll see.

I think Djok should be able to win it, but it might be a battle.

ross Says:

Nadal doesn’t seem too injured right now – he was moving perfectly in his last match. I always wonder how serious his injuries really are….

would be nice to see a 5 set nadal djoke semi. the winner will anyway lose the next day, partly due to this ridiculous US open policy of semi and finals on two consecutive days (best of 5). heck, it gave sampras his 14th slam on a platter (he faced schalken, while agassi had to battle hewitt who took his juice out before losing)

jane Says:

Monaco playing fabulous today – making it a nice battle against Djok, although with Djok now 2 sets up, it seems Monaco has injured himself. Tough to say what will transpire after these trainer timeouts. Never seen so many of those…

jane Says:

Djok now suffering same symptoms as Berdych was: shortness of breath, can’t move, given stomach medication by trainer. Weird. If he gets through this match in 3 he’ll be lucky; if he doesn’t I could see him retire.

Even if he does get through, can he bounce back again, for Moya, a player he just lost to in Cincy?

zeg Says:

Djoker plays in adidas, his parents in the stands are decked out in Nike. WTF?

grendel Says:

There is a great deal to be said for England being so lousy at all sports, and in particular, tennis. This means that in England, we get to watch proper matches, except for the first round at Wimby, where they put on all kinds of English no hoper wild cards . Fortunately, they lose straight away, and we soon get down to some proper tennis. There was a time when Jeremy Bates used to get to the third round, always playing long 5 setters, and that was pretty agonising, since his matches were always televised at the expense of infinitely more interesting ones, but we’ve had none of that for a while now – Henman being a legitimate player.

But now, someone called Jamie Murray, a Scot, brother of Andy, has got to the semi-finals of the mixed doubles. So we were watching a rather enjoyable match between Djokavic and Monaco, when suddenly it was removed from the screen, and we were presented with this character Jamie Murray and 3 other people whose names escape me. Just like that.

Apparently the English are deemed to feel so starved of tennis success that an excellent match between 2 top players is removed so that we can cheer on some obscure Scot, an even more obscure Indian, and two other characters from somewhere or other, play tennis with each other.

My son, who is even more annoyed than me, has glumly informed that Murray and partner won the first set. So, no doubt, Djokovic will be in the middle of a thriller with Nadal, it’ll suddenly be whipped off our screen, and Sky Sports will proudly announce exclusive presentation of Jamie Murray in Mixed Doubles Final.

jane Says:

LOL Grendel – well at least they don’t cut away to log-cutting like they sometimes do here in Canada.

For the record, if you’re not following online, Monaco just took 3rd set with some fabulous plays at net. He almost lost tiebreaker when a ball fell out of his pocket and he lost point – gotta get deeper pockets!

zeg Says:

Congratulations grendel. The lame Scot is no more.

Dan Martin Says:

Berdych could learn a lot from how Haas fought through a 4-6, 0-2 deficit. Haas saying Berdych was “crying” pre-match was kind of funny but very telling. When Haas with a reconstructed shoulder and Blake post back break get after each other for 5 sets you have to wonder what Berdych was suffering from etc. If it was a legit nasty flu etc. I am sorry, but otherwise his showing was beyond poor.

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