Berdych relishes playing alongside greatests of his era

Filed on February 24, 2016

Czech Tomas Berdych returns the ball to Portuguese Joao Sousa during their second round match.
(Photo by Kiran Prasad)

SP230216-KP-TENNIS01 Czech Tomas Berdych returns the ball to Portuguese Joao Sousa during their ATP tennis match on the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on February 23, 2016. Photo by Kiran Prasad

Berdych is just happy that he got to play against some of the greatest players of all time.

There are pundits who believe Tomas Berdych is one of the unluckiest players ever. They say if the aggressive baseliner from the Czech Republic was born in another era, he would have definitely won a Grand Slam.

The Monte Carlo-based Berdych has the game to hurt anybody on his day. And he came close to winning that elusive Major in the 2010 Wimbledon when Roger Federer, arguably the greatest grass court player of all time, found his ground-strokes too hot to handle.

But in the final, Berdych had no answer to the brilliance of Rafael Nadal who was in the form of his life. And the ruthless Spaniard extinguished Berdych's hopes in three brutal sets.

Now at 30, Berdych is not getting any younger. But he is just happy that he got to play against some of the greatest players of all time.

"Well, we are in the tennis era of the greatest players," Berdych said after his comprehensive 6-1 6-4 win over Joao Sousa of Portugal in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

"It was a three or four years of dominance of Roger, you know, then in between Rafa enjoyed some great years. And now basically what Novak (Djokovic) is doing on the court is amazing. It seems he is from another world!"

Rather than feeling dejected, Berdych prefers to look at the positive side.

"For us, I mean, it's always a big challenge, you know, to try to chase those guys. I think the positive thing is that they make me a better player, because I'm trying to get closer to them, trying to reach higher levels," he said.

But Berdych admits that it is only going to get tougher for him now that talented youngsters like Nick Kyrgios are beginning to find their feet.

The mercurial Aussie was too good for the veteran Czech in the Marseille indoor tournament last week.

"Nick is one of the guys of the new generation with great ability. He can do really good results, good matches. I mean, he is still a very young guy.

"So with these players, you can see almost every month how they improve, how they play better. You know, I played him a month ago in Melbourne, and now I played him on slightly different court. You know, you can see the difference.

"So it's not easy, you know. It's getting more and more difficult. But I'm looking forward to it, actually."

Berdych is also looking forward to playing in his fourth Olympics in Rio this year.

"I have done it already three times, but, you know, I was much younger then and my body coped with the demands better.

"Now it's going to be interesting. But I really want to play. I need to really plan the schedule very carefully. Yes, it's going to be tough, but you have to be smart."

Berdych also wants to the play in the mixed doubles in Rio. And his preferred partner for the mixed game is not Petra Kvitova - the two-time Wimbledon champion and the highest ranked player from the Czech Republic. "It's the Olympics, it happens only once in four years. So if there is a chance to win a medal in any discipline, I would like to try that.

"And you know, I would like to play with Karolina Pliskova if we find a way to make it happen. So let's see!"

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