Tomas Berdych didn’t try to find excuses after losing to French
qualifier Stephane Robert in the first round of the French
The sixth-seeded Berdych said he didn’t struggle physically and
that the new balls this year at the clay-court Grand Slam
tournament have nothing to do with his defeat.
Robert was simply the best, Berdych said.
”Obviously he is a guy who really loves to play there,”
Berdych said after squandering a two-set lead to lose 3-6, 3-6,
6-2, 6-2, 9-7. ”And he just uses it 400 percent and just plays his
best tennis. I cannot imagine somebody who can play a tennis like
this being out of the top 100, playing qualifications. But that’s
Berdych, who reached the French Open semifinals last year, held
a match point while leading 5-4 in the fifth set, but Robert saved
it when the Czech sent a return wide, and then held serve.
It was the 31-year-old Robert’s second win at a Grand Slam
tournament and his second victory of the season.
”I gave it all today. I fought for my life,” the 140th-ranked
Robert said. ”I saved a match point.”
Playing high-risk tennis, Robert tired Berdych with his
groundstrokes and his sharp attacks at the net, which paid off when
the Frenchman managed to finally keep the ball in the court.
”You know, I was not struggling physically in the last three
sets,” Berdych said. ”I was feeling the same as in the beginning.
I was playing quite solid the first two sets, but still, he was
missing just a few balls that could have been in, and even those
first two sets could have been different.”
Berdych also refused to put the blame on the new balls when
asked if they were difficult to control in the hot and dry Parisian
”It was the same for both of us, and the balls are OK,”
Robert produced 62 winners and won 82 percent of the points when
he went to the net. He made the decisive break in the 15th game
after hitting two consecutive forehand winners.
He punctuated some of his most spectacular shots down the lines
with kisses to the sky.
”It’s just to say thank you to Mother Nature for being so nice
to me and allowing me to produce such good shots,” he said. ”In
those moments you have the feeling that you live in perfect harmony
with the nature.”
It was also Robert’s first victory over a top 10 player in five
matches. His most prestigious result so far was a win over David
Ferrer in Johannesburg last year.