LONDON (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych was the latest player to get a close-up view of Roger Federer’s age-defying genius as he suffered a straight- sets defeat by the Swiss in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Friday.
The 11th seed pushed Federer hard on Centre Court but whenever the glimpse of an opportunity arose he found the evergreen 35-year-old tantalisingly out of reach.
Berdych had beaten Federer the last time they played at Wimbledon - in the 2010 quarter-finals when the Czech went on to lose the final to Rafa Nadal - but the version he faced in the sunshine seven years later appears to have turned back the clock.
“I don’t see anything that would indicate really Roger is getting older or anything like that,” Berdych, who went down 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4, told reporters.
“I think he’s just proving his greatness in our sport. So I think that’s all I can say about that. That’s very simple. This guy doesn’t really seem like he’s slowing down at all.
“If you look at the other guys who are 35 or 36, I think you can very clearly see that the age and the years on tour are affecting them. But not with him. He’s doing the right way.
“You have to be a unique one for that.”
If there was any consolation for Berdych to take into the rest of the season, having fallen to a seven-year low of 15th in the ATP rankings, it was that he made Federer sweat on his way to record 11th Wimbledon final.
Eighteen-times major champion Federer had reached the semis without losing a set and while he kept that record intact, there was rarely a moment in the two hour 18 minute contest that he could truly relax, such was Berdych’s commitment.
It was only a small consolation, though, for the Czech who sported a pair of Novak Djokovic branded shoes because his own ones had been causing him discomfort.
“Close or far doesn’t really matter. The score is important, and that shows pretty much straightforward,” Berdych, who now trails Federer 19-6 on head-to-head, said.
“I mean, he’s playing barely with any mistakes. He was controlling the game pretty well. Even those two sets in the tiebreak, I was still the one facing more break points.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond