Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bullet Proof Federer Denies Fiesty Berdych

Tomas Berdych came ready for a fight.

Facing Roger Federer in a Grand Slam is never an easy proposition for any tennis player, but at least the 23-year-old Czech player should get credit for coming prepared.

Attack, attack, attack and if that fails, then attack some more.

For the first two sets, it worked. The 20th seeded Berdych maintained his aggression and pounded away at Federer, hoping the Swiss genius would break. Berdych's forehand supported his game plan. Everything he fired at Federer landed in and his confidence grew with each winner.

Surely, Berdych must have thought, that having just won the second set on a tie-breaker, combined with the scorching afternoon sun, Federer simply would wilt under the prospect of having to play three more sets of tennis.

Yet, despite being only one set away from recording the biggest win of his career, it was Berdych who floundered. All that energy and effort was taking its toll.

While Berdych was feeling the effects of the intense heat, Federer, as he so often does, barely looked like he'd even broken a sweat.

Then it happened. Slowly at first, but just as if Federer might adjust the climate control in his house, the momentum swung in his favour. As quickly as Berdych appeared to be on the brink of the upset of the tournament, he looked outclassed and hopelessly mis-matched. The confidence which he carried through the first two sets had vanished.

By the time the fourth set had arrived and despite still trailing in the match, Federer was looking in total control. Berdych on the other hand, started looking anywhere for help. Rattled by a hawk-eye system failure, the Czech soon began to resemble so many of Federer's beaten opponents.

The sweeping ground strokes that Berdych had used effectively earlier in the day had deserted him. He was now left to effort and energy, with the unrelenting sun draining the latter.

Distraught and desperate, the fifth set became a formality. Like a python suffocates its prey, Federer denied Berdych a look in and eased into the quarter-finals.

This is what makes Roger Federer so good. He never gives up, never quits. He might sometimes be beat, but he is rarely beaten.

Anybody looking for a role model should study Federer closely. He is a model of professionalism. He never doubts himself, nor does he distrust the strengths in his game. He doesn't resort to throwing tantrums when things don't go his way and has a respect for the game and its history.

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