Known throughout his career as being one to let the moment get to him, Tomas Berdych faced a match point against him with a smile. Perhaps it was that brief moment of levity that allowed him to finally win over Roger Federer in a messy drama filled match 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) at the Sony Ericsson Open.
Despite some great points, most of the match saw huge amounts of unforced errors from both men, 61 from Federer alone. And even though Federer had chances to take it, his lack of match play and general lackluster demeanor probably tipped things in Berdych’s favor.
After double faulting away the first set to Berdych, Federer picked up his game in the second set. Berdych somehow found ways to hold serve despite Federer having seven break points against the Czech. After winning the second set tiebreaker, it looked like Federer would run away with it. But it was Berdych who broke Federer first to go up 2-1 in the final set and, more importantly, it was Berdych who looked calmer while Federer reverted back to his subdued demeanor from the first set.
Federer started attacking Berdych’s forehand which led to Federer breaking back at 4-3. Eventually things wound down to another tiebreak where both men couldn’t keep a ball in court, especially Federer’s forehand. Federer managed to get a match point after Hawk-Eye called a Berdych forehand long.
And it was then that Berdych managed a smile that seemed to relax him despite all the drama. With that, Berdych attacked a Federer second serve that Berdych set up for a winner to even things at 6-6. Hitting another forehand winner, Berdych, after almost three hours, served it out when Federer hit another forehand long.
Berdych last beat Federer way back in 2004 at the Athens Summer Olympics and should have won against Federer at the 2009 Australian Open after being up two sets to love before losing that one. Despite his nervy reputation, the Czech has improved his play recently with a quarterfinal showing last week at Indian Wells and will now take on Fernando Verdasco in the next round.