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Berdych Excited For Comeback Challenge In 2019

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2018

Berdych Excited For Comeback Challenge In 2019

Czech looking to bounce back from back injury

Tomas Berdych first broke into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings on 4 October 2004, just after his 19th birthday. To put that into context, #NextGenATP sensation Denis Shapovalov was just five years old at the time. The Czech star Berdych first finished inside the Top 20 of the year-end ATP Rankings in 2006, and he’d stay inside that elite group for 12 consecutive years.

But after a 9-3 start to the 2018 season, Berdych’s year began to crumble. Back pain hindered his performance, leading to losses in eight of his next 10 matches. And after losing to Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the first round of the Fever-Tree Championships, enough was enough.

“[The pain had] started quite a while ago and at the Queen’s tournament, I just said, ‘No’,” Berdych remembered. “I cannot go on anymore.”

That would be the end of the 13-time ATP Tour titlist’s season. The 33-year-old dropped as low as No. 77 in the ATP Rankings, a number he hadn’t seen since he was 18 years old. But Berdych knew that he had no choice but to take time away from the court.

“My body said now I need rest and now I need to take care of it,” Berdych said. “I did all the tests, I did all the medical things that I had to do. I was very lucky that I didn’t have to do any surgeries, which was very good for me.”

By the middle of October, Berdych was able to resume training on the court. But despite having been on the ATP Tour for so long, this was a new experience for him. The Czech had dealt with small injuries over the years, but nothing that kept him out for an extended period of time.

“I remember my first steps on the court, starting to serve when the shoulder and everything was quite stiff. My serve was like throwing the ball by hand, it was very slow,” Berdych remembered. “In two weeks I could serve properly and I was like, ‘Wow, what a difference’.

“Since then I’m feeling good, I can load up, and everything is going well. So I’m very happy for that.”

Now, it’s about Berdych finding a rhythm and building up his ATP Ranking again. Currently World No. 71, he may fall even further after the Australian Open, where he is defending 350 points from making the quarter-finals last year. If Berdych loses in the first round, he will fall outside of the Top 100.

This is uncharted territory, and Berdych knows that. But he also knows that he has the level in him. At the 2018 Australian Open, the Czech beat Juan Martin del Potro and Fabio Fognini, both of whom went on to complete the best season of their careers.

Berdych has won 627 tour-level matches, more than former World No. 1s Thomas Muster, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick, among others. So it’s not a question of whether or not the Czech is capable of boosting his level. But it’s just a matter of working step by step, staying healthy, and making a push back to form.

“I’m seeing it as a big challenge ahead of me. In my career, I’ve never experienced it,” Berdych said of having to rebuild after injury. “So after 15, 16 seasons, I’m really looking forward to something new and some new situations, so exciting times coming up.”

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Federer's Switzerland beat GB's Norrie & Boulter in Hopman Cup

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2018

Roger Federer outplayed Britain’s Cameron Norrie as defending champions Switzerland swept Great Britain aside with a 3-0 victory at the Hopman Cup.

World number three Federer defeated Norrie 6-1 6-1 before team-mate Belinda Bencic beat Katie Boulter 6-2 7-6 (7-0) in the women’s singles to win the tie.

The Swiss pair then completed the victory with a 4-3 (4-0) 4-1 win in the mixed doubles in Perth, Australia.

Norrie, 23, and Boulter, 22, play Serena Williams’ USA on Thursday.

They defeated Greece in their opening tie in the tournament on Saturday.

The Hopman Cup comprises two singles matches and a mixed-doubles contest between nations in a round-robin format with two groups of four.

The winners of both groups will contest Saturday’s final.

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Kyrgios ready for Brisbane title defence after spider bite

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2018

Nick Kyrgios says he is ready to defend his Brisbane International title despite being taken to hospital on Christmas Day with a spider bite.

The Australian, 23, was put on antibiotics after waking with a swollen foot, but practised in Brisbane on Saturday.

The world number 35 will face American Ryan Harrison, whom he beat in the 2018 final, in the first round on Monday.

“I didn’t take it (bite) seriously,” said eighth seed Kyrgios.

“I just felt an irritation on my foot the day before Christmas. There’s worse things in the world but I think I’ll be OK.”

As he prepares to return for the first time since October, Kyrgios said he plans to reduce his 2019 schedule after struggling with his mental health last season.

He endured a frustrating 2018, dropping from 21 in the rankings before being forced to cut his season short because of a recurring elbow injury.

“Just being away from home was the toughest bit,” Kyrgios said. “Battling injuries, going to tournaments and not even playing was tough, but they’re not really big problems.

“I’ll have a lighter schedule and when I play, enjoy playing and just compete.”

He added: “Being home solved a lot of my problems. It was more mental than anything. I was away from home for five and a half months. I don’t ever want to do that again.

“If I was to win the US Open or something, I won’t play again for the rest of the year.”

Kyrgios could meet Japanese second seed Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals in Brisbane, with Britain’s Kyle Edmund – seeded third – in the same side of the draw.

On the other side, Britain’s Andy Murray returns and will face Australia’s James Duckworth in the first round. He could play Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the semis.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Harriet Dart qualified for the main draw of the women’s singles by beating former world number nine Andrea Petkovic.

She will play Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon in the first round, while Briton Johanna Konta faces world number six and third seed Sloane Stephens.

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