If at first you don’t succeed
Tomas Berdych has been a model of consistency in 2015. Berdych was runner-up at Doha and at Rotterdam. He was a semifinalist at the Australian Open, at Dubai, and at Masters Miami. He was a quarterfinalist at Indian Wells. The Big Czech finds himself in the semifinal round of Monte-Carlo. His 26-6 record includes wins over Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils (2X), Bernard Tomic (2X), and Juan Monaco.* He has not padded his record by running over the competition at multipe 250 series events.
Close but no cigar
Aside from his win over Nadal, Berdych has not posted many upsets either. Instead, he has absorbed six 2015 losses from Andy Murray (2X), Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, and Stanislas Wawrinka. Murray, Federer, and Djokovic clearly are obstacles to Berdych, but if he wants to make a serious assault on the biggest prizes in tennis he needs to beat players along the level of Ferrer and Wawrinka. Ferrer has been red-hot in 2015 posting 3 titles. Wawrinka has 2 titles, and has posted an 18-4 record over the previous 5 Grand Slam events.
I look at Berdych’s 2015 and see a lot of strong results. His worst showing at any event was losing to the possible GOAT in a quarterfinal match. For Berdych to contend, he has to keep doing what he has been doing and reaching later rounds. He also has to find another level of play when he faces his peers and members of the big 4. Asking for another gear from a player who has been a known commodity since the 2004 olympic games may be asking too much. Still, his results have been quite good under a new coach. I think it will be much easier to see if Berdych has another gear 6-12 months into this partnership. A 3rd win over Monfils and a Masters 1000 crown would also go a long way toward answering what Berdych’s ceiling is for the remainder of his career.
* Berdych’s 2015 win over Raonic and his Miami win over Monfils were the result of mid-match injuries.