A Grand Slam finalist, multi-major semifinalist and 13-time titlist, Czech Tomas Berdych has celebrated many milestone victories throughout the world.
Few achievements have match his elation as a member of the Czech Republic’s winning Davis Cup team in Prague five years ago.
“Czech people they like their tennis,” he says, still happily recalling the emotion of the Czech Republic’s 3-2 victory over Spain before thousands of fans at the O2 arena on November 18, 2012.
“They love the sport. They always create a great atmosphere for us players.”
The joyful support reflected the passion that Berdych had long maintained for the team event. First representing his nation as an 18-year-old in 2003 and helping them to the final in 2009, he not only starred in that 2012 victory but also led the nation as it defended the title in 2013.
Now the big-hitting 31-year-old anticipates a team high of another kind as he joins Team Europe as the first captain’s pick at the Laver Cup.
“I’m very happy and very proud to be becoming a part of this team and becoming part of something which is new and I think it’s very strong,” said Berdych.
“For the first time it’s going to kick off in Prague, which is my home town, and I’m really looking forward to being in the team with Roger, Rafa and captain, Bjorn Borg and all the rest of the guys.
“I think for me it’s going to be one of the other highlights of the career.”
Spending much of his long career battling Federer and Rafael Nadal, Berdych hardly imagined he could one day compete alongside those modern greats.
“That’s I think the fun and the good part because you know we all competing against each other all year round in all (our) careers and now we are going to able to be in the same team because it’s all of Europe,” he noted.
“Normally when you’re just in a team then you’re just in a team with your countrymen but never with someone else like this, so this is also going to be a very unique opportunity. That’s also something that has never been in tennis in the past. “
Not that the long-serving Berdych has struggled to make his mark in an individual sense. Shaking up the established order from his first years on the professional tour, the then teenager upset Federer at the 2004 Athens Olympics and has six wins in total over the Swiss star.
One of those wins was in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2010, the 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4 progression helping Berdych to reach a first Grand Slam final, which was ultimately surrendered to Nadal.
Among other highs on one of the game’s most solid records are titles claimed on every surface, as well as semifinal runs at every Grand Slam.
Longevity is arguably Berdych’s strongest feature, the Czech a top-20 fixture for more than a decade and finishing every season since 2010 inside the top-10.
His feats of endurance are best measured in Davis Cup. The winner of eight of the nine singles rubbers he contested en route to the title in 2012, Berdych was equally workmanlike the following year. Contesting eight rubbers across singles and doubles, Berdych’s only loss came against Novak Djokovic in the reverse singles of the final against Serbia.