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28 Jul 2012

Day 1: Berdych stunned by Darcis in opener


Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerTomas Berdych (CZE)

LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Belgium's Steve Darcis is through to the second round after recording a sensational 64 64 victory over an out-of-sorts Tomas Berdych in the opening
match on Centre Court.

One break in the ninth game was enough to hand Darcis the first set, and the world No. 75 broke twice in the second set for a 5-2 lead. Berdych rallied enough to break back and reduce the deficit to 5-3, but failed to convert two break points in the next game that would have seen him draw level. Instead the Belgian served out to win the match in 1 hour 26 minutes.

“I think this is maybe the best victory of my career,” said Darcis, who had never played Berdych, the world No. 7, before. It was his first victory over a Top 10 player, and one that
continued his habit of saving his best for representing his country: the 28-year-old has won his last seven matches in Davis Cup, including victories over the higher-ranked Feliciano Lopez and Jurgen Melzer.

Darcis was the more comfortable player throughout a match played in bright sunshine but in fresher temperatures in London than the past few days. The pair were on level terms until 4-4 in the first set, when Darcis created the first break point opportunity of the match and took it to go 5-4 ahead. The Belgian served out to win the first set after 31 minutes.

Berdych didn’t get his first break point until the fourth game of the second set, but Darcis shut him out in the next three points and immediately struck back, breaking the Czech in the next game on his fourth break point. Both men slipped on the grass more than once, but it was Berdych who seemed to have the harder time with it, coming as it did on top of his problems with his first serve and his growing unforced error count.

While the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up repeatedly found the net with his volleys and misjudged his returns, Darcis was mixing up his rallies better and had particular success with a floaty dropshot that his Czech opponent didn’t anticipate. Darcis’s second break of the set came after Berdych mistakenly left a passing shot from the Belgian, only to see it drop inside his baseline.

As if remembering where he was, and noticing that he was wearing the red, white and blue of the Czech flag rather than his usual All England Club whites, Berdych raised his level enough in the next game to claw one break back to make it 5-3. It was to be his first and last break of the match however as the Belgian raised his defences higher to fend off two break points in the ninth game and go on to record an impressive win.

“It was amazing, you know, to step on the court, to see all the crowd,” Darcis said of his first outing on Centre Court. “Of course, it was different. It was the Olympics. It's also another atmosphere, you know. It was great. You play tennis to play those matches, to play on those courts.”

Next up for Darcis is Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. Berdych’s medal hopes now rest with the doubles, where he and Radek Stepanek face Daniele Bracciali and Andreas Seppi of Italy tomorrow.

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  • Tomas Berdych (CZE)Steve Darcis (BEL)
  • Steve Darcis (BEL)Tomas Berdych (CZE)