Tomas Berdych couldn’t tell you how many places he’s visited but by our count, it was at least 24 cities in 17 nations last year alone. Any wonder there are days when the world No.6 wakes up and can’t remember where he is. Still, you won’t hear him complaining, Berdych grateful for the many people he’s met and cultures he’s experienced as a travelling tennis professional.
I’m not good with my count and my records of the miles and the countries (I’ve visited). I would say with the tennis schedule it’s kind of pre-set which countries I can go. So let’s look at it another way: I’ve only been twice to South America, playing Davis Cup there … so that part of the world could be discovered more by myself.
I’m really not the guy who would be complaining about the travel. I take it as a fact that it’s a big part of my job, part of my career, and I’m trying to enjoyitasmuchasIcan… meeting all sorts of different people, different cultures, different places.
(My advice to other players is) plan the schedule and timing as best as possible and try to enjoy it. Look for some really small thing, details that you can always find out during these travel times that you’re going to enjoy. Try to be positive because it is part of the life, and if you want to complain about travelling don’t play tennis.
I spend so much time away that I’m trying to bring as many people with me as I can. Or the ones that are close to me – meaning family and my girlfriend – as much as possible. I’m really not suffering by being away from home and I try and make it nice everywhere that I go. Of course, the time that you can come back home and sit on your sofa is something you cannot get anywhere in the world, but really I take it as a part of my life and I deal with it.
It happened to me (that I woke up forgot where I was). It’s a matter of jet lag and different time zones. I used to have it when I travelled from Europe to the east, so basically Japan or China it’s always like that. Or when it’s Bangkok and you’re supposed to fly to Tokyo, which means you take those overnight flights. Then you go to sleep and all of a sudden you wake up and think ‘Where am I? What is it? Cool down. I’m in Tokyo. That’s fine.’
We played once in Morocco in a village nearby the Algerian border … It was a bit of (an) experience. When we were landing they were telling us we are quite lucky we can land from the side we are supposed to because if there is a bad wind and we need to go over Algeria they could employ the fire (air force) jets to land us.
In my worst (travel) experience I just fell asleep. That is the best way to handle it. Once I played under-16 European Cup and we were leaving Istanbul for Vienna. The flight was like at 4am and we left the hotel at 2am so as kids, we didn’t go to sleep of course. We arrived at the airport and were all tired. So I fell asleep in the plane and we take off and then we just land and I wake up and it’s good, we’re in Vienna. I’m glad. My coach next to me he was completely sweaty, really stressed and I was like, ‘What happened? What’s going on?’ and he said ‘we had a problem with one engine and landed basically with just one engine and we are back in Istanbul’.
I think every place has something really special and I always find many places I could return at least for a week in the year. But if there was one that would stand for the rest of my life, the hometown where my parents still live, probably that one (is where I would always return).
This article first appeared in Australian Tennis Magazine.
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