Seven straight seasons inside the top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings says it all: Tomas Berdych is Mr. Consistency. A semifinalist at the BNP Paribas Open in 2013, the 31-year-old has been knocking on the door at the Slams for years, his imposing 6-foot-5, 200-pound game having now accounted for nearly 600 career wins. The 2010 Wimbledon runner-up recently brought on Goran Ivanisevic as coach, and is more than eager to take that next step at the majors. BNPParibasOpen.com checked in with Berdych at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Q: The start of the year has been a mixed bag for you — semis in Doha and Rotterdam, but a tough loss to Roger Federer in the third round at the Australian Open. How are you feeling on the court here in Indian Wells?
Tomas Berdych: The start of the year has been, for me, a bit unusual. I’ve always had a good run at the first Slam in Australia. This year, unfortunately, I had an early loss to Roger. That changed my perspective at the beginning of the season. Now I have a lot to catch up on. Things are not ideal, but the season is long and this one is another big one. It’s important to do well.
Q: You called that match [a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 loss] with Roger “a lesson.” How much did he take you by surprise after being off for six months? Did you think he had the stuff to go all the way to the title?
TB: Absolutely. He proved that all the way. The match against me was just as I said — it was a lesson for being purely aggressive on the court, dictating the game all the way. He managed that really well. I’m pretty sure he’s the only one who can do it like that after such a long time, to come back and win a Slam.
Q: Talk a little bit about your decision to bring Goran Ivanisevic on as a coach.
TB: The idea really is that I’m at the stage of my career where I’ve tried many things. It’s not about bringing on someone who was a former tennis player, but also I have a feeling that he can be the one to help me, with his experience as both a coach and a player. He found a way to win a Slam in the late stages of his career. It’s good timing to bring Goran on the team. I’m very happy for that because it’s definitely a positive move forward. I’d like to get as much as possible from this relationship, so in the end, I can really say that I tried everything that I possibly can.
Q: You’ve talked about playing more freely. Goran was certainly a free spirit in his day. Did that thinking go into your decision to bring him aboard?
TB: Yeah. A couple of other guys, former players, were also available, but I just felt like Goran should be the person who can help me and bring me the needed experience. He’s a very different person than he used to be on the court. So far it’s a great matchup and I really like working with him.
Q: Many people look at this tournament as the fifth Slam in many ways. What is the Indian Wells experience for you?
TB: It’s a really big event. It’s a shame that we cannot include this as a Slam, because this place would definitely deserve it. When you see all the hospitality and the service from the tournament and from Larry Ellison, you see there is a way to do it. If somebody has a passion for it, you can do really incredible things. That’s what the players like. It’s one of the weeks I always look forward to in the year.