PARIS (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych has been seeded in grand slams for 10 years, yet the Czech, ranked fourth at the French Open, is rarely discussed as a potential champion.
Hardly helped by the era in which is playing in, Berdych has reached only one grand slam final, at Wimbledon in 2010, but has been ever-present in the world’s top 10 for five years.
After being drawn in the “weaker” bottom half of the draw here in the French capital, Berdych may sense a chance to give himself another shot at a final.
He made his ranking tell on Monday in a 6-0 7-5 6-3 thrashing of Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, who could do nothing to stop a player who warmed up for Roland Garros by reaching at least the last eight in the Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome Masters.
“I‘m feeling generally quite happy and quite good about my tennis... everything is going smoothly so far,” Berdych, who is seeded among the top four of a grand slam for the first time, told a news conference.
Berdych, who is on a quarter-final collision course with another Japanese in fifth seed Kei Nishikori, will next face compatriot Radek Stepanek.
Asked why he was not being more fancied despite his ranking, a regular question for Berdych in recent years, he had a simple answer.
“There is the fact that there are other guys who have grand slam titles and I don’t have,” he said.
“That’s a fact and the only thing I can do about it is try to change that, just try to take my chances. That’s all I can do about it.”
Grand slam titles have long belonged to the members of the so called ‘Top Four’ (Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray), until last year, when Croatian Marin Cilic and Swiss Stan Wawrinka won the U.S. Open and Australian Open respectively.
Before that, Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray had won all the major titles between them since 2004 with two exceptions in 2005 when Russian Marat Safin prevailed in Melbourne and in 2009 when Argentine Juan Martin del Potro triumphed in New York.
“It’s just good for them. It’s good for whoever wins the slam, and that’s it. It just shows the picture of today’s tennis,” said Berdych.
“That’s exactly how it is. The results are the best picture of the game. You know, I mean, being closer or not closer in the end it doesn’t really matter. Just the winners are counting.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman