Berdych Survives Scare In Paris-Bercy Opener

Tomas Berdych (photo: BNP Parisbas Masters)

PARIS, November 1, 2016

Tomas Berdych advanced to the third round of the BNP Paribas Masters, winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 against Joao Sousa of Portugal on Tuesday. The 31-year-old Czech fired 14 aces and converted both of his two break points to prevail in one hour and 54 minutes.

“My approach to [London] is very simple: I have to do well here. I have to play good tennis because if you don’t play your best, you don’t really deserve to be there,” said Berdych. “Luckily, I’m healthy and can play. Who would have said that I’d be answering questions about London when I was in the hospital in Cincinnati? This is a nice bonus.”

Berdych is in unfamiliar territory in Paris Bercy this week. The seventh seed is No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Race to London and No. 11 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, marking his first week outside of the rankings’ Top 10 since reaching the 2010 Wimbledon final as the World No. 13.

In the 329 weeks since then, Berdych has qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and ended the year at No. 6 or No. 7 on six straight occasions. Both of those streaks are in jeopardy for the 2005 BNP Paribas Masters champion. Berdych trails Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic for the final two vacancies at the year-end championships in London. The Czech must come out of Andy Murray’s quarter and reach the semi-finals this week for any chance at returning to The O2 for the seventh consecutive year. He will next take on the winner of the encounter between Gilles Simon of France and Spanaird Roberto Bautista-Agut.

Fourth favourite Milos Raonic also found his way to the third round, winning 7-6, 6-4 over Pablo Carreno-Busta from Spain. The world No. 5 from Canada sent down 17 aces and didn’t face a break point to seal victory in one hour and 13 minutes. Next up for Raonic will be either Pablo Cuevas from Uruguay or Italian Paolo Lorenzi.

Richard Gasquet beat US-American Steven Johnson 6-4, 7-6. The 12th seed from France won 78 per cent of his first service points and converted two of his 12 break point chances to prevail in one hour and 56 minutes. Gasquet will next take on the winner of the match between Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock. The latter eased past Philipp Kohlschreiber from Germany 6-2, 7-6.

In the final match on Court Central, Grigor Dimitrov benefited from the retirement of Marcos Baghdatis, leading 6-3, 0-0 to reach the third round. The 14th seed from Bulgaria awaits either world No. 1 Novak Djokovic or Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.