For pretty much a decade, Tomas Berdych has been a consistent feature in the men’s tennis elite, sustaining a top 10 level performances for what feels like forever. The Czech might not have won a Grand Slam title, but he certainly made a great case for himself as the best player without one; among Slamless players, he holds the record for most semifinal appearances (7) and only needs three more wins to hold the record for most match wins. He’s also put together an impressive 626 wins at ATP level. Some other players have a case for being the best player without a Slam, including his contemporary Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but there’s no doubt Berdych’s case is a very strong one.
Early on, 2018 looked set to be another strong year for Berdych, who had a pretty good run in Australia, only stopped by the eventual champion (and one of his bête noires ), but after that quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer things took a disastrous turn. Berdych has looked terrible most of the time and comes into Roland Garros riding a four-match losing streak: against Frances Tiafoe in Miami, and then three straight Round 1 losses on clay to Kei Nishikori, Richard Gasquet, and Denis Shapovalov in the three clay Masters. Not only is he on a losing streak, but his level of play has been absolutely dire and he has hardly even looked fit enough to compete.
Coming into the French Open, Berdych is presented with a possibility to give his seemingly fading career a boost. Form isn’t on his side, but the reality is that for the past year Berdych’s only good performances have come in Slams, which is about the only encouraging sign for him at the moment. He has a decent draw to make a run at Roland Garros and revive his career, with the highest seeds in his quarter of the draw being John Isner and Juan Martin del Potro (who has injury question marks coming into this tournament). Of course, things could as easily spiral down further for the big Czech with a fifth consecutive loss, as he faces Jeremy Chardy in the first round. The one thing that is clear is that this is a very important tournament for the future of one of the best tennis player of the 21st century.
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