Can Tomas Berdych Upset the Immovable Object that is Novak Djokovic?

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(July 1, 2013) For all the mayhem that this Wimbledon brought, we have chalked in the quarterfinals for the top half of the draw, and the most-hyped match will definitely be the one involving the World No. 1.

Novak Djokovic leads the career head-to-head against Tomas Berdych 13-2. Berdych, however, won the last time they met, taking 3 sets to upset Djokovic in Rome. Berdych also won the only time they met at Wimbledon, in the 2010 semifinals. That, of course, was the match following Berdych’s historic upset of Roger Federer.

Both Djokovic and Berdych have been playing some very good tennis all tournament. Bernard Tomic managed to throw Berdych off his game in their fourt-round match, but Berdych was just too solid and too good overall, even if he hit some bad errors. Djokovic’s level of defense has been superb and he has moved from defense to offense beautifully. He has been moving on the grass here like he’s playing on clay and doing it successfully.

This match for Berdych could honestly feel similar to that 2010 match against Federer. This will all be about trying to hit the ball past Djokovic’s defense. Djokovic will get balls back into play and try to counterattack. If Berdych is to be successful here, he needs to hit big and easily shake it off when Djokovic wins insane defensive points—something that definitely will happen. Berdych will be tempted to try and wrong-foot Djokovic when possible if he doesn’t have a bit shot available, but watching Djokovic this tournament it just doesn’t look like that will work.

Djokovic, on the other hand, just needs to play his solid game for an entire match. Berdych will win points by hitting the ball past him. He needs to ignore those and insert himself in enough points to rattle the big Czech. He needs to win those points and just always make Berdych hit the extra shot.

This should be an exciting match because the two players have such very different strengths and will each be trying to dictate throughout the match. Both players will need to concentrate on their own games and ignore their opponents. This match will be all about who can sustain momentum. Berdych has the ability to win and lose chunks of points very quickly, either by slapping winners or spraying errors.

This match will not completely rest on Berdych’s racket. Djokovic has the ability to dictate rallies as well and keep Berych from hitting his huge groundstrokes. Still, if Berdych can keep momentum and hit the ball cleanly throughout the match he will have his chances. Berdych will get to dictate more than Djokovic will. If he wants to win, he will have to stay consistent and go for his winners. Most of all, though, he can’t let Djokovic’s defense or his own nerves get to him.