Tomas Berdych will be happy with Friday’s 105-minute workout against plucky Bosnian qualifier Damir Dzumhur, one that took him into the last 16 in Melbourne for the fourth year running.
The Czech seventh seed was never remotely troubled by an opponent ranked No. 188 playing in his first main draw of a major, running out a 6-4 6-2 6-2 winner on Hisense Arena.
“He is definitely a fighter, but today I was using my experience a little bit more,” Berdych said.
“The years are definitely on my side, and that’s something you cannot get anywhere apart from through these matches.”
It was 43 degrees in the shade when Berdych, now 28 and looking at the peak of his physique, hammered the first ball past the man from Bosnia Herzegovina. It was a ploy the giant 196cm Czech, who stands 21cm taller than Dzumhur, would repeat time and again.
Clearly a fast and nimble player when required, Berdych harnessed his weaponry to the big-hitting winners all afternoon, off the serve and forehand in particular, and the sooner in a rally the better.
He didn’t overly break sweat, and it was a match to be got though, the outcome set in his mind and the result justifying the means.
It all came across as just another day at the office which, for his 21-year-old opponent and band of largely Melbourne-based Bosnian supporters, it was anything but.
Stationed in the top corner of the stadium and away to the umpires’ right, Dzumhur’s fans were a boisterous bunch all afternoon, their favoured method of support to jump up and down, scarves in the air, after each winning point and cheer wildly. It was a notable contrast to the more choreographed Australian ‘Fanatics’ supporting every home player at Melbourne Park this week. This, however, was a European offering and the atmosphere was no worse for it, only different.
Perhaps the Czech would have taken umbrage had the quality of Dzumhur’s play been more demanding. Berdych looked like he had come dressed for the beach, but Dzumhur played like he was on it, relaxed, good-natured and always upbeat.
It wasn’t quite enough, but Dzumhur has had a wonderful tournament. Three wins in the qualifiers and a passage past 32nd seed Croatian Ivan Dodig will give him funds and future confidence aplenty.
Dzumhur ran and ran against Berdych and was never afraid to try the inventive or the cheeky, several nifty drop shots against the big man clearly pre-planned.
He kept pace until 4-4 in the first set before Berdych pulled away. The second set was a more dominant affair, an early break by Berdych setting the tone to a 6-2 close. The play itself was largely a carbon copy of the set before, scurrying and harrying by the Bosnian before a mighty blow from the Czech.
The match went with serve in the third until 3-2 when Berdych struck, compounding the damage by serving at 215km/h mark immediately after and saving a first break point against him with an ace.
And as for the blue and white striped ‘football’ shirt Berdych wore once again?
“It’s the summer, we should be happy and enjoying this time,” he said.