Doha: Berdych ‘back at it’ in comeback quest

Published by Alex Sharp

Tomas Berdych celebrates his latest victory at the ATP Qatar Open in Doha (Getty Images)
The former Wimbledon finalist missed the second half of 2018 with a back injury, but is rebounding strongly in his first event of the new season.

It’s been a stint of frustration on the sidelines but Tomas Berdych is officially “back at it”.

The former world No.4 made the declaration on social media last night having prolonged his comeback in Doha.

Berdych is competing at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in his first tournament since Queen’s back in June.

The Czech was forced off court to recover from a back injury, however, the rejuvenated 2010 Wimbledon finalist has completed the relentless rehabilitation to launch back into prominence in Doha.

A straight-sets triumph over Philipp Kohlschreiber, before clinching victory from behind against Fernando Verdasco, proves Berdych is back on track.

On Thursday, the 13-time tour titlist dismantled the in-form Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2 6-4 to advance to his first tour semifinal since Marseille in February 2018.

Rewind to the immaculate green lawns at London’s Queen’s Club and Berdych was unable to compete at his desired level due to a persistent back complaint.

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“My body said now I need rest and now I need to take care of it,” Berdych told the ATP website. “I did all the tests, I did all the medical things that I had to do. I was very lucky that I didn’t have to do any surgeries, which was very good for me.”

The 33-year-old has slipped down to a current ranking of No.71, his lowest since he was a teenager.

It was only in the middle of October when the towering Czech could restring the rackets and head back onto court to resume training.

With the Next Gen snapping at the heels of the established guard, Berdych is fully aware of the task ahead.

“I’m seeing it as a big challenge ahead of me. In my career, I’ve never experienced it,” explained the Qatar Open wildcard.

“After 15, 16 seasons, I’m really looking forward to something new and some new situations, so exciting times coming up.”

Fourth seed Marco Cecchinato stands in Berdych’s way to the final, while on the other side of the draw Novak Djokovic continues to display his gladiatorial greatness.

The world No.1, champion in 2016 and 2017, was forced into another contest going the distance in a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

“I thought Basilashvili was playing terrific from the beginning. I expected him to,” said Djokovic, 24 hours on from fighting back from a set down facing Marton Fucsovics.

“I knew that he’s playing probably the tennis of his life in the past 10 months, and he’s definitely one of the greatest hitters in the game.”

The 14-time Grand Slam champion will look to continue his title tilt against seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinals.

Djokovic has dominated their previous encounters with a 7-1 record, but the Spaniard was impressive in a 6-4 6-4 quarterfinal triumph over 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

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