There has been a lot of attention given to the ex-star player coaches on site at the Australian Open such as Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Ivan Lendl.
Tomas Berdych’s coach, Tomas Krupa, doesn't have the same high profile, but he has done a bang up job with his fellow Czech over the past few years. On Tuesday, Berdych reached the Australian Open semifinals for the first time, which means that he has accomplished what few players have managed: reaching the final four at every major.
That is Big 4 (Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer) territory.
“He’s doing a pretty good job,” Berdych said of Krupa. “It's always about the chemistry between the people, if those guys feel great with [their coaches], having them in the team. That's their choice. I feel great with my team and with my boys. That's what is very important to me.”
Berdych showed tremendous strength, focus and determination in his 6-1 6-4 2-6 6-4 over world No. 3 David Ferrer. The 28-year-old had a negative head-to-head record against the Spaniard coming into the match, but changed up his strategy a bit, mixed it more and didn't allow Ferrer to force him to go end to end in rallies.
Berdych moves pretty well for his size, but he’s not fast enough to get into a track meet.
“The last two matches we played, both of them I made tactics,” said Berdych who also defeated Ferrer at the 2013 ATP Finals in London. “I made a plan, what I'm going to do, what I'm going to try to do through the match. If this is going to work, I'm going to stick with the plan, it might be the right one. Second time in a row, it was the right one. But definitely was not easy one.”
While the powerful and tall Czech is happy to have finally reached the last four, raising a big trophy would be preferable. He reached the Wimbledon final back in 2010, scoring upsets over Federer and Djokovic before losing to Nadal. The world No. 7 had a solid 2013, but not a spectacular season, failing to win a title.
So raising the Australian Open trophy would be more than he ever dreamed of.
“It would be really the top of my career so far, definitely,” Berdych said. “There’s no question about it. But we are still talking about two matches left. These two matches are like I would say maybe 10 or 15 others. If you look at the opponents that you might face in the semis and possibly in the final, really that's something why you play tennis and why it's that special when you get to the last stages of the tournament. So really I'm going to try to do the same: go one by one and let's see what's going to happen.”
Berdych is in two minds about flying under the radar: on the one hand it keeps the pressure off him but on the other it indicates a little disrespect for his prospects. He doesn’t expect analysts to call him a tournament favorite in the Slams, but he does think he can meet his own, which are very high.
“Expectation is one thing that is what I have for myself,” he said. “That's what my plan is, always when I come to the tournament, that's the one thing. If there is some extra pressure, or if maybe our people start to talk more, I think this is not the case when you look at the players that are there right now, Novak, Rafa, Roger, all those players. So leave it for them. I need to be focused really for myself. No one's going to give you anything for free really just by talking. You need to be ready for it. “
Berdych will face the winner of the quarterfinal between Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, both of whom he owns wins over. Regardless of whom he plays, he is going to have compete very well and bring out the same level of ball that he showed in his win over Ferrer, or perhaps better.
“I'm going to give 100% into that match and really not looking into the future,” Berdych said. “So really I will make everything what I have left. If it's going to be the lucky one, the winning one, I'm going to try to prepare myself somehow and be ready for the final.”