Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Novak Djokovic is on fire and has scorched his way through his quarter-final match-up with Thomas Berdych in Melbourne tonight.

A scorched earth policy seemed to be what Djokovic appeared intent on as he proceeded to destroy anything in his path. No matter what Berdych sent his way, he generally had an answer to it in his 6-1, 7-6, 6-1 win. Unfortunately for Berdych, he was the unlucky recipient of Djokovic’s ire, and, the heat was simply too much for him to handle. Djokovic, looking fit as a fiddle, started a bonfire of the Berdych game from the get go. If his Czech opponent had any tennis vanities, they were soon to be wiped out.

Not letting up, he raced through the first set in thirty-six minutes. The Djokovic serve was having the time of its life as he made short work of his service games. Yet, Berdych was struggling with the enormity of the situation as he seemed to take an eternity to hold his own serve. And that was just in the second game. For the remainder of the set, Djokovic simply made haste with wonderful anticipation of the rewards that were surely coming his way. Berdych, on the other hand, had made a hasty retreat into a set long slumber.

Regularly, Djokovic moved Berdych around the court relentlessly, all the while making splendid use of the angles available to him, until there was an opening. Which, sure as can be, he pounced on with monotonous regularity. It had looked likely that Djokovic had burnt off his rivals chances very early on, indeed.

Berdych, however, had other ideas. Notions of a second grand slam title were not deterred from introducing themselves to his thought processes. And mind he did not, as he surged forth to a 4-1 lead as Djokovic fell into a form slump that threatened to arrest his seemingly unrestricted path through to a mouth watering contest with Roger Federer. It seemed that he was having problems with his eyes as he continuously rubbed at them and frequently complained to his support crew sitting in their court-side box.

Eventually, though, whatever had been troubling him appeared to dissipate, and he started a mighty comeback in an attempt to blunt Berdych’s momentum. First, Djokovic broke his foe’s serve in the sixth game, then reeled off three straight games to take a 5-4 lead.

Sensing a grand opportunity slipping by the wayside, Berdych steadied himself and fought back once again, forcing the set into a tiebreak. A close run thing it was, but Djokovic handled the pressure with aplomb, securing a two sets to love lead.
Having seen his chances take a sudden turn for the worst, Berdych looked for all the world a man that had lost hope. The spark that had raged within for much of the second set, seemed to have been extinguished. Instead, it was the enemy who was on fire. And look out anyone that dared to get in Djokovic’s way.

While Berdych hung tight for the opening games of the set, Djokovic soon gained the ascendency after he broke serve in the fourth game to go 3-1 up. From there on in it was a procession of winners on the part of Djokovic. It had even got to the stage that one could have been forgiven for thinking Berdych was a boy in a man’s world, such was the dominance of Djokovic as he finished off the set, 6-1.

The Serbian had played a smart game, constantly peppering Berdych’s forehand and forcing him to play straight down the line. Not one of the Czech’s strong points, it must be said.

It was near to the complete performance on the part of Djokovic. Not only did he do a marvellous job on Berdych tactically, he made limited unforced errors himself.
Which bodes well for what shapes as an epic duel with Federer, a man whose grand slam record is as safe as a Swiss bank.

Djokovic will be hoping to stage a successful break-in. And the way he is currently playing, he stands a very realistic chance.

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