Monday, February 23, 2015

DUBAI: Berdych not content with long-time top-10 status

Tomas Berdych feels like he is making one last attempt to spark change in his game and career as he hopes to transition from being a regular top-10 player to a serious contender at majors and a challenger to the ‘Big Four’.

Berdych, who after beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarter-finals last month, is just one of two players – alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - to beat every member of the ‘Big Four’ at a grand slam, hired Andy Murray’s former hitting partner Dani Vallverdu as his coach at the end of last season, concluding his six-year partnership with Tomas Krupa.

Linking up with Vallverdu has already started to pay dividends as Berdych started his 2015 season by making the final in Doha, the semis in Melbourne and the final in Rotterdam.

While it can be seen as one of his best starts ever to a season, Berdych wants more.

I feel really good. I would have felt much better if I had at least one title under my belt, but I think there are many new things that I am trying to put into my game and I can already feel that they are working well, they are successful,” said Berdych, a runner-up in Dubai the last two years.

So, it’s a good sign and gives me belief and promises good things for the future.”

At 29, Berdych has spent the last four and a half years consistently in the top-10. A year after teaming up with Krupa in 2009, he made his first and only grand slam final, finishing as runner-up at Wimbledon.

He feels his decision to change his coach was both bold yet necessary.

The thing I felt is that I got to stage where my team could not be helpful in the way I wanted them to be. So I felt I needed something different. I needed a change if I want to get better,” said the world No8.

It’s nice to spend four, five years among the top-10 but the years are coming and this could be my last opportunity to change something and try to get higher or try to aim for bigger results.

That’s why I made this decision. Bringing Dani to my team, I believe he is the right person with all the experience that he has.”

Berdych says Vallverdu has been very helpful when it comes to having the right tactics on court but the Czech also knows he must work on his fitness if he plans on causing any real damage.

I think it is always going to start with the fitness. I am a tall guy, quite a heavy guy and when you want to compete with guys like Andy, Novak (Djokovic), Rafa (Nadal) and Roger (Federer), you are going to have to be extremely fit and prepared for that,” says Berdych.

So that’s the reasons why I am saying you cannot just play at that level for a set or two when you are at the slams. You have to be ready to play at that level for five sets, no matter what’s going on.”

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