When you have reached the finals of Wimbledon (2010), played Rafael Nadal and even defeated Roger Federer – one would imagine the Chennai Open would be a piece of cake. But top seed Tomas Berdych says he still gets a little nervous before every match. “You can’t play without it,” he adds a moment later. “It’s important that you have the right amount of tension in your body to get out there and play a great game.”
The ATP ranked number six player spoke to City Express on the sidelines of a meet and greet with school goers learning the game, tennis buffs and a sea of blue uniformed Aircel staff and employees at one of the network’s prime outlets on Poonamallee High Road recently.
With his towering 6’5” frame, Berdych had to bend slightly so as not to hit his head on the arch of balloons at the entrance of the venue and was greeted by much clapping and cheer. And then there was much photo-taking: tiny tots who appeared to have straight from their tennis class (racquet handles visible on their backpacks), tennis buffs and fans and the top management at Aircel were all eager for a snap with the celebrity in the building. While the crowd of flashes seemed a bit of an ambush to start with, the Czech tennis star seemed in no hurry and patiently posed for photographs, while simultaneously autographing water bottles and bright yellow stress balls that were doled out generously as memorabilia for the occasion.
While several of foreign athletes took the time to make the trip a week ahead of the tournament in order to acclimatise to the Chennai’s humid weather, Berdych took a flight in only a couple of days ago. “But I think that I’m quite used to the climate here already,” he states and explains, “I just spent a week in Abu Dhabi so it’s quite similar”. Also, this is his third time in India and asked about his impressions of the country so far, Berdych is all praise. “I’ve met so many great players from India,” he smiles. “And your country is huge, there are so many opportunities here,” he elaborates simply. He then adds unexpectedly, “We (Czechoslovakia) are such a small country in comparison, nothing compared to India...”
Then again, he did wipe out Somdev Devvarman in a easy 3-6, 1-6 defeat. In fact, watching the game at the stadium, one could tell that the mighty Berdych had barely broken a sweat by the end of the match. Humble and power-packed at the same time – one predicts it should come as no surprise if Tomas Berdych wins that championship trophy on Sunday.