Anything odd about Berdych’s French Open chances?

History suggests Tomas Berdych is one to avoid following at the French Open this year, but his performance in reaching the Monte Carlo Masters final hinted he should not be quickly dismissed when it comes to Roland Garros.

The Czech was beaten in three sets by Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo and he pushed the world No.1 all the way, with unforced errors not helping his chances of pulling off a shock victory. But, in what was the first tournament of the European clay-court season, it offered plenty of encouragement for Berdych when it comes to the French Open, where he has a mixed record.

Berdych’s best run in Paris came in 2010 when he beat a bad-tempered Andy Murray in the last 16 before losing in five sets to Robin Soderling in the semi-finals. Last year, he advanced to the quarter-finals before being beaten in straight sets by Ernests Gulbis.

However, the fascinating feature of Berdych’s French Open record is that he tends to struggle at Roland Garros when the year ends in an odd number, which on that basis does not make positive reading for his 2015 chances.

In 2013, Berdych suffered a first-round defeat by Gael Monfils and he was beaten at the same stage by Stephane Robert in 2011 after holding a two-set lead. Another five-setter was Berdych’s undoing in 2009 in the first round when he recovered from a two-set deficit to level before going out against Simone Bolelli. And, in 2007, Berdych was beaten in straight sets in the first round by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

So, if Berdych can overcome that slightly unusual statistic and progress past the first round this year, then his price of 33/1 with betfair to win the French Open at the time this article was produced could look generous, if he lands in the right half of the draw. That is exactly what happened in Monte Carlo, where Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer were all in the other side of the draw. Berdych was in control of his quarter-final before Milos Raonic retired and he thrashed Roger Federer’s conqueror Monfils 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-finals.

Following his defeat by Djokovic in the final, Berdych acknowledged he is missing one step in his clay game, but he has time to work on that as he is missing the Barcelona Open.

He reached the final on clay in Madrid three years ago, losing to Federer, and has won tournaments in Palermo and Munich on that surface. Berdych has also reached three finals already so far this year.

Against the top players, Berdych does often fall a little short, but he has the game to test the best and he has a chance of reaching his second Grand Slam final after losing to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2010 when he had beaten Federer and Djokovic in earlier rounds.

This article was submitted by Betfair and was not written by writers.

Nadal sees no point in change

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Rafael Nadal has insisted he has no intention of following the recent trend of a number of top players by changing his coaching setup, making it clear he will be sticking with his uncle Toni, whose time working with his nephew has yielded 13 Grand Slam titles. While Nadal’s main rival according to Betfair this year, Novak Djokovic, recently hired Boris Becker, in just one of a number of coaching changes made ahead of the 2014 season.

Djokovic’s decision to hire Becker came following a host of former Grand Slam winners from yesteryear to be handed important coaching roles over the winter. While Roger Federer has linked up with Stefan Edberg in a bid to amend his slide and get the Swiss star back up the Betfair odds, Richard Gasquet has taken on Sergi Bruguera, Marin Cilic has renewed his partnership with Goran Ivanisevic, and Kei Nishikori has acquired the services of Michael Chang.

A change of coach helped turned Andy Murray from an almost man to a two-time Grand Slam winner, winning the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon titles following his link up with Ivan Lendl. And while there is no doubt Murray’s decision has paid off, Nadal has made it clear he won’t be following suit, sticking with his coaching setup heading into a 2014 in which the Spaniard will be looking at holding onto his number-one spot, something you can bet on with Betfair.

“I will stick to my team. I always feel when I play bad, it is my fault and when I’m winning I’m doing the right things. I had success in my career with the same team. I had good and worst moments with the same team. I understand if anything goes wrong, nobody is responsible more than me.”

Nadal will head into the first Grand Slam of the year as a narrow second favourite behind four-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic for the title in Melbourne, although the current world number one won’t be being written off by many.

This article was submitted by Betfair and was not written by writers.

Serena’s ‘Antics’ Annoy Jankovic

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Jelena Jankovic was upset with Serena Williams’ erratic behaviour as the favourite in the tennis betting struggled to beat the Serbian in the semi-finals of the WTA Championships.

Williams appeared to weep into her towel and was yelling and gesticulating before she eventually saw off Jankovic 6-4 2-6 6-4.

The American also tried to slow the game down at key moments in the encounter, leading an exasperated Jankovic to exclaim afterwards: “I never saw her do this when she’s leading.

“For some reason, every time she starts losing, she starts serving slower or not running for certain balls. That’s something that as a player you have to pay attention to.

“It’s not the first time when we played that she’s doing this. That’s her way of playing – or maybe when she plays against me. I don’t know.

“She’s the number one player in the world, and she plays so well. She deserves to be in this spot. But I think also when you play, winning or losing, you have to be up there and be a good sportsman.”

There has been previous conflict between the two players as, at Charleston in April, Williams claimed she was not ready to receive serve and made Jankovic restart her service motion, to the Serb’s annoyance.

According to, Jankovic is one of only two active players, the other is Venus Williams, to have beaten Serena on four or more occasions and she led 3-1 in the first set before the 32-year-old American hit back to win it 6-4.

A string of errors by Williams allowed Jankovic to win five games out of six in the second set as she took it 6-2 but the number one seed responded by taking a 5-1 lead in the third, eventually clinching victory on her fourth match point.

Robson Destined for Greatness


Now that Murray is at the top of his game, debate swirls around Robson’s future.

Britain has a tendency to overhype their young players to the point where they can seemingly do no right in their bid to live up to expectations – only Andy Murray has bucked that trend in the last two decades.

However, in Laura Robson, could the expectant Brits have another Grand Slam champion in the making? Or is she destined to be the next Annabel Croft, more well known for her television exploits than tennis ones?

The debate about Robson has been raging on the forums since she won the Wimbledon girls’ event at the age of 14, the British media describing her as the “new darling of British tennis” following her success at SW19. Since then there has been plenty of pressure placed upon Robson’s shoulders to fly the Union Jack flag for Britain in the women’s game.

After an understandably slow start given her age, Robson showed glimpses of what she is capable of in the latter part of 2012, picking up a silver medal in the mixed doubles at the Olympic Games with partner, Murray. That was followed by a run to the fourth round of the US Open, which included victories over Kim Clijsters and perennial favourite in the Betfair odds, Li Na.

Since then, Robson has made steady progress up the rankings ladder and returns to Flushing Meadows this year as a seed for the first time in her career. While a wrist injury sustained in Toronto hindered her build-up to the US Open, Robson was able to blow away the cobwebs with a straight sets win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino in the first round.

The teenager’s powerful groundstrokes and ability to cover the court have made her a force to be reckoned with on Tour. Robson looks to have all the makings of a Grand Slam winner, especially considering she will be hitting her peak after Serena Williams has called it a day.

However, while the Brit has the potential to be a superstar, she still needs time and fans and Betfair pundits will have to be patient with her. While a major title isn’t just around the corner, the signs all point to her having “Grand Slam winner” under her name when she does make the move to TV punditry, rather than the more common “former British number 1”.

The views expressed here are by and do not represent those of

The goals for Britain’s ‘Big Summer’


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Tennis hit the headlines for the wrong reasons this week as Sport England warned the LTA it risks losing funding unless success is found at the top and bottom of the national sport.

betfairAccording to Sport England director, Phil Smith, the LTA must improve their performances at a basic participation level in order to retain their much-needed funding for future years, a target that can only be reached if the professionals succeed and inspire a new generation.

“They’ve got a big summer ahead,” Smith told BBC Sport. “The track record of participation in tennis has been pretty poor. The crunch time is December.”

Sport England have already reduced annual tennis funding from £24.5m to £17.4m until 2017 and a further cut would greatly hamper the current crop of young teenagers who have the potential to make it at pro level.

What the LTA need are more kids playing the sport and the best way to inspire them is by boasting a champion player who can win several tennis events in the year.

Andy Murray is a magnificent example of professionalism and sporting brilliance that got kids on the courts last summer when he won Olympic gold, while the women’s draw is growing stronger each month as Heather Watson and Laura Robson rise through the WTA ranks.

Yet simply competing is not enough to inspire the next set of British players. We desperately need a wealth of champions to come through and make tennis a more watchable sport for kids, which is why these next few months are so important.

The goals this summer should therefore be to have a British player crowned Wimbledon champion – most likely Murray, who is favourite in the Betfair odds – and to boast tournament champions in the WTA.

Watson broke a 24-year drought last October when she became the first woman since Sara Gomer to win a tour event. The media frenzy was great but short-lived and we title success to become commonplace if the news is to make the back pages and start attracting kids attentions.

Success is everything in tennis and for too long Britain has had little to boast about. The LTA is on the brink of something special if this trio of talents impress this summer and the future of its funding may rest on that alone.

The views expressed here are by and do not represent those of