PROFIL Tomáš Berdych (*17 September 1985) is a Czech tennis player who entered the professional tour in 2002. He took up tennis at the age of five. For the first time, he drew significant attention to himself at the 2004 Olympic Summer Games where he beat the ATM number one of that time, Roger Federer of Switzerland. On the ATP Tour, he has played in 28 singles finals, winning eleven titles, and in doubles, he won two out of the three finals he was in. Together with Petra Kvitová, he won the 2012 Hopman Cup. Probably his most prestigious final appearance was Wimbledon 2010, in which he was finally beaten by the ATP No. 1, Rafael Nadal. By getting to the semi-finals of the 2012 US Open and the 2014 Australian Open, he joined Ivan Lendl and became only the second Czech tennis player in history to get to at least the semi-finals in singles at all four Grand Slam tournaments. In the Czech Davis Cup team, he debuted in 2003, in the play-offs of the World Group against Thailand. This year, he played twenty-eight international matches in this competition, with a balance of 28:14 in singles and 20:2 in doubles. In 2012, he was the number one on the team that won the Davis Cup, having beaten Spain at 3:2 (on games) in the Prague final. By winning in the doubles final, he and Radek Štěpánek became the best-ever Czech team in the competition. In the following year, 2013, he and the Czech team defended the “salad bowl”. His highest standing on the APT ranking was fourth in May 2015, being the first Czech in such a high rank since October 1998, when Petr Korda left fourth place. He says artificial surfaces are his favourite, and he is a right-handed player.
Interview with the top Czech tennis player, Tomáš Berdych
How old where you when you started to play tennis – meaning to practice regularly? I started to play tennis at the age of five, in my home town of Valašské Meziříčí. I started to train regularly immediately because I really got into tennis. How old were you when you really started to actually enjoy tennis? I liked it immediately, from the first time I hit the ball. It was a “love at first stroke”. At what age at the latest must one take up tennis in order to be able to think about a career on a competitive level? I don’t want to give advice like some tennis expert, there are enough of those on the Internet and on Facebook. I think that each of us should approach sport with a feeling that he wants to do it, that it fulfils him, and that he enjoys it, and does not think about what place he will take in what competition and in what ranking. Everyone should enjoy sport and do it well. One can start any time, that is the excellent thing about sport. A competitive career is not what matters the most. Can you spot a tennis talent at “first glance”? At first glance, you can spot a person’s ability to move, but you also have to know that talent is only a small piece of the whole puzzle… You need to be keen and willing to work hard. Not for a week or a month, but for years. You must also be lucky in terms of good health and having the right people around you. It is like love at first sight – the love will evaporate if you do not work on it every day. Talent, too, must be nurtured and worked on.
Tomáš Berdych in ATP statistics
Current ATP ranking
Best ATP ranking (18/5/2015)
In 2015 he won his so far 18th ATP tournament. He plays with right hand, backhand both hands.
What role does family play in the “upbringing” of a top-level tennis player? Family always plays a great role, and in my case, that role was absolutely essential. My parents are fantastic, without them, I would not be where I am now! Can enormous pressure from the family in terms of results destroy or absolutely put off a player? For example so that a leading player stops seeing a priority in tennis as soon as he leaves the sphere of his family’s financial influence, and that he could even leave the sport? There can be too much of everything – pressure as well as comfort. Parents should be great friends and be happy that their child is doing something well and is pursuing his goals. They should try to help him stay on that path. But every parent must know that “if it is not in the kid, no amount of pressure will help”. It can never turn out well when a child is pressured to do a sport. How did your family cope with tennis pressure at the times you were not doing so well or during your puberty? I do not want to make it seem like I did not go through puberty at all, but I really am very happy on the court and wins and losses do not get to me to the extent that I would collapse. So my whole family enjoy tennis without much pressure. Do you have any advice as to how parents could assist in their child’s tennis career? Bring your kids up to be decent people and lead them to sport in general. Confiscate their computers and go biking or swimming together… I am still young and do not have kids, but I have been paying attention to this topic for some time already – you can see the website of my foundation www.tomasberdychfoundation.org. Do you think that a top-level tennis player must do all of his sport preparation in tennis or are there any other recommended sports that help him develop? It is definitely good to do everything – running, biking, swimming, football, basketball, skiing... You just must not get hurt. Unfortunately, I do not have much time to pursue other sports, but to specialise in tennis from, let’s say, the age of five is nonsense. When you play at big tournaments, do you ever think that aside from sport fame, there is also lots of money at stake? Does it ever freeze your legs, and how do you cope with this? It would be a tragedy if you started to think about it… Perhaps you will not believe it, but I would do tennis even if there were no money in it. I am simply a happy fellow. A friend told me that if you believe something and pursue your dream, and not do things just 80%, the result will come. I was lucky to have great parents. I am doing something that I enjoy extremely, and have even made a decent amount of money doing it…. But I hope I am still a normal fellow and believe me, Tomáš Berdych on the court is quite different than in personal life. Which place in the ranking would mean a dream fulfilled for you? Has tennis made it possible for you to have a great dream come true? I do not like to talk about my dreams… I am a mysterious dreamer. Which tennis trophy is the most valuable for you? Of those you already have, as well as those you would like to attain? I value my Davis Cup victory… And I value every match I win. Who do you consider the greatest tennis figure in global terms? Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal. Who has inspired your play the most? It might sound quite unusual, but I have never had a role model. What is the most difficult aspect of a tennis career? Stress, fatigue, fans, travel…? I think that the hardest thing is staying oneself and normal. Being able to enjoy every moment – the good as well as the bad, because a sports career is not long. You have to enjoy travel and toil, and then all is fine… I am still enjoying it. You are one of the greatest Czech celebrities – not only athletic – of the day. You have a decent collection of valuable trophies at home. Are you worried about them when you are not home, which is for a large portion of the year? I am a nomad, I am on the go all the time, flying by airplane and living in hotels and on courts. Of course I do not carry my tennis trophies with me, but I don’t have them at home, either. I am very careful about them, and the place where they are located will remain my secret. :-) When you travel to tournaments, it must be important for you to stay calm and at ease. Contributing to this is knowing that the safety of your family and household has been taken care of, is it not? Aah, it would be good to say something “marketing-like” here, would it not? But I will say it as it is: Jablotron is a member of my team, they care for my wellbeing – people who use your products know what I am talking about. And I will tell you something – the company a friend of mine and I own supplied 3D graphics for the Jablotron portfolio, so we are essentially one big family. :-) On the occasion of this interview, I would like to pay tribute to Mr. Dědek because what he is doing for our country and people would be worth building a monument for. He is a great man, both as an individual and professionally, and I respect him very much. If you were back to being, let’s say, ten years old and were to decide about having a career as an athlete, knowing what you know now, would you choose tennis again? And would you design your athletic preparation the same? Definitely. If I were to choose once more what I wanted to do, I would again take a racket and enjoy everything the same as I am enjoying it now. And I am happy that my loved ones – my parents and my wife – can be there. Will you raise your children to be tennis players? I will raise them to engage in sports in general, and then they will see. Is sponsoring an integral part of a tennis-player’s life, or can one live on prize money from tournaments? It is possible to live on prize money, and very well, that is no secret. Who are the integral parts of your support team – who, at a minimum, has to be on such a team to ensure a player’s long-term success? Is it enough to have only a coach? Naturally, a tennis coach is the foundation, but you also need a condition trainer, a massage specialist, someone to string your rackets, and a good manager. It is a small company. As a tennis celebrity, do you have a special security regime at tournaments? Such as bodyguards, specially tested hotels, do you put together your own menu, etc.? All these things are organised by the tournament organiser, I only control my menu. Tabloids create an image of each celebrity that is far removed from reality. How would you like to be seen by the public – who is the true Tomáš Berdych? I believe that my friends, fans, and people who know me see Tomáš Berdych as a regular guy who just plays tennis a bit better than some others… I do not need to be seen by them differently than they see me. Tabloids are a gutter from which you should not drink or swim in, because you always get dirty. Tom, thank you for the interview and we wish you much success in sport in the future. I would also like to thank you for the interview, and for our cooperation. I think that if Jablotron were a tennis player, it would definitely be in the TOP 5… Greetings to everyone in Jablonec! Berďa. ●