Blazing Berdych Ends Federer’s Wimbledon Reign

By webadmin on 11:33 pm Jun 30, 2010
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Steve Griffiths

London. Roger Federer crashed out of Wimbledon on Wednesday as 12th seed Tomas Berdych clinched a stunning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the defending champion in the quarterfinals.

Federer has been almost untouchable at Wimbledon for the last seven years, winning six times and appearing in every final since 2003, but his reign was brought to an end in sensational fashion.

Just 24 hours after five-time champion Venus Williams was ousted by unknown Tsvetana Pironkova, it was Federer’s turn to experience a humbling exit from the tournament which he has graced for so long. Since losing in the first round to Croatia’s Mario Ancic in 2002, Federer had been beaten just once at the All England Club — when Rafael Nadal outlasted him in the 2008 final.

But Berdych produced the performance of his life to earn a semifinal meeting with Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic.

“This is really amazing for me,” Berdych said. “If I go through my career, I think it was so far the toughest game to serve and close out the match.”

Federer is left to contemplate the latest in a growing line of disappointing results. After dropping three sets in the first two rounds, the 28-year-old top seed pulled off a pair of comprehensive victories to make the last eight, but those results were only papering over the cracks in Federer’s game.

He said at his post-match news conference that he was bothered by back and leg trouble. “If I’m healthy, I can handle these guys,” he said. “When you can’t play freely, that’s the kind of performance you get.”

It has been a forgettable year for Federer, who has now failed to win any of his eight tournaments since beating Andy Murray in January’s Australian Open final. His run of 23 successive Grand Slam semifinal appearances was snapped at the French Open and he even lost for just the second time in 78 matches on grass when Lleyton Hewitt beat him in the final at Halle earlier this month.

After this devastating loss — his second successive grand slam quarterfinal exit, the world no. 2 is certain to be subjected to hard questions about whether he still has the hunger needed to sustain his remarkable run of success.

Although Federer had won eight of his previous 10 encounters with Berdych, the Czech only had to think back to his win in their last meeting — in Miami in March — for evidence that he could shock the champion.

Standing a lofty 1.95 meters tall, Berdych has the perfect frame to deliver a barrage of big serves, and his fearsome delivery kept Federer from establishing any momentum in the first set. The 24-year-old had never been past the last eight here but he was in fine form after making the French Open semifinals earlier this month.

Here he was able to test Federer with some booming ground-strokes and, at 3-3, he got the first break of serve when the Swiss tentatively guided a backhand out. Federer was struggling to get any kind of read on Berdych’s serve and the underdog had few problems serving out the first set.

In the second set, Federer was at least able to get Berdych’s serve back into play so the 16-time grand slam winner could start to put pressure on the Czech and he quickly earned two break points.

He converted the first with a brilliant passing shot on the run that curved away from Berdych before landing just inside the baseline. He had the advantage and held onto it comfortably enough to take the set.

Federer still had a lack of urgency though, and Berdych regained the initiative when the Swiss star netted a volley to surrender his serve in the second game of the third set.

Berdych broke again in the sixth game and served out to take a two sets to one lead.


Tennis


AFP, with additional reporting by Bloomberg