Berdych Calls Almagro The Weakest Link As Czechs Host Spain This Weekend In Davis Cup Finale
by Staff | November 15th, 2012, 10:46 am
  • 65 Comments

The Davis Cup final between the Czech Republic and Spain has not even begun yet in Prague and already Tomas Berdych has fired the first shot. The Czech No. 1 called Spain’s No. 2, Nicolas Almagro, the weakest link on their team.

“I played faced Almagro many times this year and won most of them,” Berdych said according to tennis.com. “If he’s nominated, he will be the weak point on which we can build our victory. He’s missing that little something that distinguishes great players [from the rest]. He’s won smaller tournaments won this year. But he always has a chance if he plays.”

Almagro was nominated and will play Berdych tomorrow in the second rubber. Berdych has won eight of 11 meetings with Almagro and four of five this year including a contentious victory at the Australian Open where the Czech would not shake Almagro’s hand after the match because of apparent head-hunting.

The tie will open with David Ferrer against Radek Stepanek. Ferrer leads 6-3 in that series including a 0-2 comeback win in the second rubber of the 2009 final.

If the tie isn’t already decided, either Berdych or Ferrer will have the opportunity to clinch the title on Sunday in the fourth rubber.

“For us the most important thing is to have three points on Sunday – that’s why we’re here,” Stepanek said. “The final in Barcelona was a great experience that we can learn from and use that experience in front of our home crowd. The most important is the three points and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Spain blanked the Czechs 5-0 in the 2009 Davis Cup final.

“The final in Barcelona we were in completely a different position and all that was against us is now going to be on our side,” said Berdych. “It’s still on us players to go there and fight for the three points. We will do everything we possibly can to get those three points.”

The Czechs won their lone Davis title in 1980 behind Ivan Lendl’s three wins. Five-time champions Spain have won the title three of the past four years, though they will be without their anchor Rafael Nadal who remains sidelined with a knee injury. Interestingly, Nadal’s opponent in his last match, Lukas Rosol, will be playing doubles for the Czechs.

The Czech women just claimed the Fed Cup two weeks earlier in the same O2 Arena in Prague.

DAVIS CUP SCHEDULE OF PLAY

Friday
R1: Radek Stepanek (CZE) v David Ferrer (ESP)
R2: Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

Saturday
R3: Ivo Minar / Lukas Rosol (CZE) v Marcel Granollers / Marc Lopez (ESP)

Sunday
R4: Tomas Berdych (CZE) v David Ferrer (ESP)
R5: Radek Stepanek (CZE) v Nicolas Almagro (ESP)


Also Check Out:
Spain, Stepanek-led Czech Republic Advance to 2009 Davis Cup Final
2013 Davis Cup Draw: Raonic, Canada Host Spain In Opener; Czechs Visit Switzerland
Berdych Stays Perfect Leading Czechs To 2-1 Lead, Now Just Needs To Beat Rested Ferrer For Davis Cup Title Sunday
Davis Cup Semifinals, Playoffs Preview
Davis Cup Wrap: Czechs at Croatia, Israel at Spain in Semis

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65 Comments for Berdych Calls Almagro The Weakest Link As Czechs Host Spain This Weekend In Davis Cup Finale

TJ Says:

Good luck to Berdych/Stepanek, they will need it.

even without rafa, spain has won a DC title on the road in argentina, no less.

With his immense potential, DC will atleast be a consolation to Berdych! He might have had a wimbledon at the least if wimbledon was not slowed down and played like it did in the 90s!


the DA Says:

“If he’s nominated, he will be the weak point on which we can build our victory. He’s missing that little something that distinguishes great players [from the rest]”

Ugh, another reason to dislike Berdych. This kind of trash talk is best left to boxing rings and playgrounds. I bet in his own head he considers himself as one of the great players. And following Stepanek’s unsportmanslike conduct at the last DC tie, I’ll be firmly behind Spain.


RZ Says:

DA, I’m with you. I can’t stand Berdych – my least favorite player. Go Spain, and in particular Almagro!


rogerafa Says:

Nico could turn out to be the surprise package because David has got to be very tired. Feliciano would not have been a bad choice for singles because I am sure the court is going to be very fast.


the DA Says:

@ rogerafe – Yes, it’s baffling why Corretja picked Almagro over Lopez, especially on a fast court. Maybe there’s a strategy. They can switch players at any time can’t they?


Adam Says:

This sort of trash talk definitely does not make berdych any more appealing, but common people dont tell me that is doesnt make things a lot more interesting and exciting. There will be sparks flying in berdych’s match against almagro and it will be interesting to see how almagro reacts to his trash talk, and if berdych can back it up. Certainly no class in any of this, but tennis needs more this.


Giles Says:

C’mon Spain! You can beat Bird Brain and ole Steppy. VAMOS!!!


The Great Davy Says:

I think Almagro just attract the crazy. Like my friend who bash his own head in because of backhand and this bird brains who cry over a little gamemanship.

Tsonga (or pronounce, ‘tsonga’?) is the player who have real ‘balls’!


skeezer Says:

Birdsh!t has pooped again, and now it stinks even worse. Expected.

Never thought I would cheer Spain on in DC match, but Birdsh!t made it happen. Way to go Birdsh!t. Go Spain!!


Margot Says:

@ Adam 2.38
Does that mean you are longing for a return of the good old days of Mac and Connors?…;)
According to Tignor, Connors once spat at Mac’s support box. Imagine if that happened now!


Eric Says:

Unsporting but true.


MMT Says:

I’m not sure I think Berdych’s comment is unsporting per se…I mean, after all, the only thing I can find wrong with what he said is that no matter who Spain chose as their second singles player they would be the weak link, because aside from Ferrer, they don’t have anyone who consistently performs at a high level. Almagro is very far off Berdych and Ferrer, but he isn’t the most reliable competitor, his huge talent notwithstanding.

I think it would have been unsporting if he started talking about his personal life, or that he’s not nice around the locker room, or something like that, but to me, this just sounds like an honest assessment of Spanish selection challenges.

I think Correjta has made a mistake, though – I think Lopez would have been a better choice because I don’t believe he’ll necessarily get any better results in singles whether he picks Lopez or Almagro, but if something happens to one of the doubles players he screwed with Almagro – who’s useless in doubles, and certainly compared to Lopez.

To answer the DA’s question, players cannot simply be substituted in Davis Cup – the rules is only players selected at the start of the tie can be selected to play either singles or doubles, but they can use whatever combination of players they want, who have been selected. They can substitute an injured player, but that injury has to be “legitimate”. I put that in quotes because that has been a source of contention in the past.

The real weak link in all of this is Stepanek – he’s fine to fill in the doubles, and Novak can always go with Stepanek and Berdych in doubles if there’s a problem with the doubles team, but if Stepanek gets an injury, it could get very ugly very quickly for the Czech Republic – but then again, they have no choice in this matter – the two Czech “doubles” players would be easy pickings for Spain anyway.

Should be interesting, but I’m picking Berdych in 4 sets over Almagro, Ferrer in 5 over Stepanek. Spain will win the doubles (no matter who it is) and in the reverse singles Stepanek will lose to Almagro, but Berdych will beat Ferrer who will be exhausted after a long first match and a long season, for a 3-2 victory to the Czech Republic.

And in the battle of WAGs, Berdych’s bombshell will be covered at a 2 to 1 ratio to Nicole Vaidisova over the 3 days, but there will be at least one shot of them embracing.


MMT Says:

The last sentence of the first paragraph should read, “Almagro ISN’T very far off of Berdych and Ferrer…”


jane Says:

Almagro has won all of his DC matches this year (5) including a 5 set win over Isner, but they’ve all been played on clay. I don’t know if that’s a huge factor here or not.


MMT Says:

Almagro has a match up problem with Berdych – neither of their returns of serve are particularly good, and both of their serves can be devastating. I think the edge goes to Berdych because of the surface – the combinatio of the speed of court and Berdych’s compact strokes and easy power will mean he has to take less risk to pressure Almagro than Almagro will to pressure him. When Almagro has go for more, unless he has the match of his life, that’s a recipe for a lot of inconsistency.

Coincidentally, I didn’t realize Ferrer and Stepanek play first, and Berdych and Ferrer play the first reverse singles – by my estimation the tie will be over at 3-1 and thus they probably won’t play the fifth rubber.

That also means I must adjust my WAGs prediction to a 3:1 advantage for Ester over Nicole.


jamie Says:

Hopefully the Czechs wins this.


Giles Says:

C’mon Spain, c’mon Ferru!! VAMOS


Brando Says:

VAMOS SPAIN!


Giles Says:

First point to Spain. VAMOS!!!


John Says:

I would have no problem with Berdych’s comments if he truly was a great player. I’m sorry, but how many majors has he won? He’s certainly not on the level of the top four. I would argue that Ferrer has surpassed him. Tsonga would have as well had he not starting playing it more safe this year. Berdych is just a slightly superior player to Almagro, and we’ve seen how well he’s matches up with Berdych. Idiotic thing to say.


jane Says:

Almagro just won the second set and has had a break point in the third. If he were to win this match, Spain could sweep it in straights.


jane Says:

Looks likey that Berd has this now.


jane Says:

Amazing how Nico came back into it. Berd had a point for a double break to go up 4-1, but Nico held and then broke back. Even in the 4th set…


jane Says:

5-0 Almagro in the 4th set tiebreak – this is going 5 sets…


the DA Says:

Berdy is missing that little something to take advantage of a break and close out the match.


Giles Says:

C’mon Nico. VAMOS!!!!


RZ Says:

DA – LOL!

Regardless of how this match ends, I think Nico has proven himself more than up to the challenge. Berdych might still win but should think twice about trash-talking again.


RZ Says:

BTW, for those wondering why Captain Corretja chose Almagro over F. Lo, Feli hasn’t played too well this year (losing record).


jane Says:

So many breaks/break backs in this 5th set. Can Berd serve it out this time?


RZ Says:

Oh boo! Well, Nico didn’t get the win but he probably helped his team tremendously by keeping Berdych on court for 4 hours. Interesting to see who the Czechs play in doubles tomorrow.


the DA Says:

He can, finally. I bet the Czech team didn’t want him to go through a 5-setter that ended so late. He has doubles duty tomorrow doesn’t he? Anyway, I’m glad Almagro put up a good fight and made Berdy eat his words. Weak link indeed.


the DA Says:

Another thing, Almagro showed what true sportsmanship is by waiting at the net to shake hands.


The Great Davy Says:

This luke skywalking wannabe has less personality than ME.

Too bad Almagro. You get next time.


Tennislover Says:

What a great second rubber after the disappointing affair in the first one. The Czech team did not do themselves any favor by not putting up a quicker surface than this. Almagro played with a nothing-to-lose attitude and almost pulled it off. He was the one who took the initiative most of the times whereas Berd was strangely subdued. It appeared as if he put himself under a lot of pressure given that he was playing at home and the expectations must be very high. The loss of the first rubber could only have added to the pressure. Anyway, as RZ said, Nico kept Berd on court for four hours and it probably took a lot out of Berd emotionally and mentally if not physically. There is a very short turnaround for doubles but I think Spain are the firm favorites now to lift the cup again. On today’s evidence, Ferrer should beat Berd and Nico should beat Step in the reverse singles. Granollers and Lopez have just won the WTF and I’d be a bit surprised if they don’t win the doubles irrespective of the Czech pairing they play although Step and Berd have an excellent DC doubles record.

As for sportsmanship, Berd showed a lot of restraint when Nico almost bumped into him while rushing off to his bench. He got out of way and waited for Nico to pass him. Nico could easily have stopped or slowed down but he didn’t. That kind of pathetic gamesmanship could easily have turned ugly.


mat4 Says:

@TL:

Although, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to watch any rubber today, I wouldn’t be surprised by any result in the next three matches: Berdych could easily overpower Ferrer and Stepanek surprise Almagro on a fast indoor court. And about the double: I still tend to think that Berdych/Stepanek are a better pair.

Spain’s main advantage is that it can rest his single players. It could be crucial.


mat4 Says:

Just found that blog, “The Changeover”. A lot of excellent articles, and some very knowledgeable writers. I am in awe.


Tennislover Says:

“Spain’s main advantage is that it can rest his single players. It could be crucial.”

That is what I think is likely to be the deciding factor especially for Berd as he also plays the first match on Sunday. I agree about the Berd-Step pair but Berd won’t have it easy against Ferrer. I expected them to prepare a much quicker surface than this. If the Czech team somehow win the doubles, Berd could carry the momentum and blow Ferrer away if Ferrer has a bad day but that is unlikely. In a long match which is more likely, I’d give the advantage to Ferrer. Berd will be under tremendous pressure to deliver in front of his home crowd. Both Step and Nico will be under great pressure if the fifth rubber is the decisive one. On today’s evidence, I’d give Nico the slight edge. Of course, this is DC and stranger things have happened.


mat4 Says:

There was a long interview with Gebhardt Phil Gritch, Novak’s fitness trainer, where he revealed how much they worked on Novak’s balance, positioning and movement. I often have the impression that Nico’s most important problem is precisely his positioning and movement. He has a great backhand, one of the best FH on the tour, but he seems often to be too late for his shots.

Anyway, he’s a graceful and elegant player I like very much.


mat4 Says:

When we are at it, Novak’s positioning for his FH is sometimes questionable.


jamie Says:

Mark my words: If Spain lose this DC final, Nadal will not win a slam next year and perhaps ever again.

Similar to how Spain lost the DC final in 2003 and Ferrero, the 2003 FO winner, never won a slam again.


jane Says:

mat4, thanks! What a heart-warming story that was from Nole’s fans.Maybe I need to find a pier near the FO this summer and perhaps I’ll get into the semis and finals. ;) Cheers.


Tennislover Says:

Mat4- I agree about Nico’s bh but his fh is not that consistent. I also think he is very talented but doesn’t appear to be very strong mentally. MMT, who is probably the most knowledgeable and courteous poster on this blog, rates him highly.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,

Thanks for that:-)

jane,

After this article you might find quite a few girls queuing at the pier in Paris:)


Wog boy Says:

BTW, have you seen pictures of Nole in Brazil with Guga and the kids showing them how to play BH…FH… or whatever?
He is going to play football too, with Ziko, Bebeto and the rest.


mat4 Says:

@TL:

I believe that it is related with his movement and positioning.

I don’t often “meet” MMT, we are probably from different time zones. But I was impressed by the knowledge of many of the posters here: TF76 (he is rarely here lately, or he has changed his nick), Skeezer (alias: what Rafa has to with it?), jane (when she deign to reveal her knowledge), Ben, Dave (although we mostly disagree, to put it mildly) and yourself, among others.

For my part, I didn’t play for almost thirty years now, and I learn about modern tennis mostly watching my son’s lessons.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

The whole site is excellent. You will find this article interesting:

http://www.changeovertennis.com/how-the-match-was-won-live-edition-djokovic-vs-federer-for-the-world-tour-finals-title/

with a lot of insights about Nole’s game.

Anyway, the pleasure was mine.


mat4 Says:

Hi, WB. Is it sunny down under?


Wog boy Says:

Hi mat4, not really, it is lousy weather. Raining all day yesterday and cloudy and rain today, good for drinking since I cannot do any grass/garden work;)


jane Says:

Wog boy, the more the merrier. But how nice right? :)

mat4, I will read it soon; thanks again.


TJ Says:

Great on Tomas! Walking the talk! come on Tomas and Lukas and Radek! Tennis needs some players with an exciting game like yours!


genetica Says:

I think Nico is a tremendous player and Berdych is, well, not even a player. I used to like Berdych as he used to have that innocent look on his face, but when he beat FedEx in the Wimbledon quarters 2010, Fed said he had a minor back injury and Berdych replied that he thought FedEx didn’t have any injuries. The first of so many pathetic things he started to do, reaching its height, when he refused to shake hands with Nico, a really gentle player and a true tennis lover, not glory. Well, on Monday,Ferrer gonna show Bird-ish how the game is played. Straights.


tennishere Says:

I’d be happy if Almagro won, but I bet Berdych won’t
let him to much there


scineram Says:

Quite an epic match. Interesting how many people have completely written out what was clearly a superior pair.

I hope Tomas closes tomorrow. If not, then Radek is in trouble.


TJ Says:

super! berdych has done his bit!


jane Says:

Wow, I didn’t think Berd would play doubles too. Is he going to have enough in him tomorrow? Ferrer leads their H2H. That would mean it would all come down to Steps over Nico. Hmmmm, not sure what’s going to happen.


TJ Says:

nadal has won all his davis cups by winning only 2 points in the final. same for djokovic too. would be interesting to have a list of players who have won all 3 points for their team in a DC final.

winning 2 points is really no big deal for most top players. of the top players, federer/murray play all 3 points for their country and it is no surprise they have not even come close to winning a DC.

it will be unfair if berdych loses this even after winning 2 points.


Giles Says:

C’mon Spain!! VAMOS!!!


mat4 Says:

@jane:

As I foretold… The Czechs won the double.

Joking aside, Novak had no choice — his double team is far weaker from the team Berdych/Stepanek.

This way, they have two shots to the title, and I believe that Stepanek can also clinch the title. He is an exceptional DC player, and it could be the crown of his career.

Anyway, on a fast surface, I don’t see how Ferrer could beat Berdych in front of the Czech public. I had a look at their H2H, and there’s nothing relevant. So, my take is Berdych in three.


jane Says:

I am neutral for this event. Both Berd and Steps especially have been stalwarts in DC and Spain has SO MANY titles already. If the Czechs win it would be both men’s and women’s titles for the Czech Republic and the fist men’s title for the Republic, the last title being won in 1980 before they were a republic.

BUT the Czechs have a super uphill battle: in Berdych vs Ferrer, David has the edge (5-3 H2H). They haven’t played since last year’s WTF. In Stepanek (#37) iAlmagro (#11), Nico has the edge based on ranking, although Radek leads the H2H, 2-1. But the latest win was Nico’s at this year’s USO.

As for a top player winning 2 points in the final – and throughout the year – that’s more than half the battle. Then a team needs only 1 more point to win. In my opinion, if a top player gets 2 points for the team, that’s an important, sometimes crucial, contribution.

Nole’s team has Nenad, a great doubles player (indeed I believe he was ranked number 1 or 2 in dubs the year the Serb team won DC) not to mention Tipsy and Victor, so there was/is no need for Nole to play doubles. In fact, Tipsy might be more of a natural at the net, so it makes sense that he would play with Nenad and Nole win a reverse rubber instead. With the Spaniards, they have enough depth to not need Rafa to play doubles.

That said, it would be huge for Berd to win another match and clinch the title for his team. I was not expecting him to play today after that super long match with Nico yesterday. We’ll see how much he has left in the tank for tomorrow….

At this point surely Ferrer and Nico will be the more rested players.


jane Says:

mat4, interesting predictions and foretellings. We’ll see if you’re right!


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Usually, I am wrong. So I had to make notice that for once, I kind of got it.


mat4 Says:

BTW, IMHO the H2H between David and Tomas doesn’t mean much. Five matches were on clay, and only two matches were played in the last two years. I think that they both have change since.


RZ Says:

Berdych has now been on court for about 7 hours, 15 minutes over the last 2 days. That’s gotta slow him down tomorrow against Ferrer. Let’s see if he has that little something to clinch the Cup for his team or if it’ll go down to Steps.

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