Berdych beats Djokovic to reach Wimbledon final

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The Independent Online

Tomas Berdych came of age as a grand slam star with a clinical destruction of new world number two Novak Djokovic to reach his first Wimbledon final.

The 24-year-old 12th seed showed his giant-killing act against Roger Federer was no fluke by overpowering his Serbian opponent 6-3 7-6 (11/9) 6-3 in today's first semi-final to reach his first slam final.

The world number 13 was watched by his father Martin and mother Hana, who flew in from the Czech Republic for the match, as he became the first Czech to reach the men's singles final at Wimbledon since Ivan Lendl in 1987.

"The feeling is absolutely amazing," he said. "It's tough to describe.

"For every young kid who first hits a ball, it is a dream to be in the final of any grand slam and Wimbledon is the tough one. It's definitely the biggest tournament for me. It couldn't be better."

Djokovic, whose run to the semi-finals enabled him to overtake Federer in the rankings, was competitive in the first set and had a glorious chance to level matters in a dramatic second set which tested the mental strength of both men.

The Czech served at 6-5 for a two-set lead only to drop his serve for just the sixth time in the Championships and then re-asserted himself to lead 6-2 in the tie break.

Amazingly, Berdych squandered five set points and Djokovic had two set points before bringing the tie-break to a sudden and anti-climactic end with a double fault.

The Serbian, who was hoping to mark the occasion with the 300th win of his career, never recovered from that setback as he quickly subsided to his 99th defeat.

Berdych had earlier picked up from where he left off against Federer in his quarter-final by hitting 34 forehand winners, compared to just 10 by his opponent, and averaging 125mph with his first serve.

The 6ft 5in Czech has a big forehand and an even bigger serve, as Federer discovered to his cost, but he has gradually developed an all-round game and he took his new bag of tricks onto court against Djokovic.

An elegant baseliner, his talents were recognised as far back as 2003 when he first entered the tour but he lacked the mental edge to make them count, or so everyone thought.

That began to change earlier this year in Miami, where he beat three top-10 players in a row, including Federer, and his big breakthrough came in Paris last month with his first grand slam semi-final appearance.

He brought confidence into Wimbledon and, after going one step further, will now seek to become the first Czech winner since Jan Kodes, who triumphed in the strike-hit year of 1973.

Berdych began with his 88th ace of the Championships and even Djokovic, one of the best returners in the game, was not able to make much impression on his booming serve.

The first deuce did not come until the fifth game and the first break point came in the next, which went to the world number 13 after Djokovic put a forehand into the net.

Berdych then comfortably served to close out the set with the aid of a crisp forehand winner.

When a seesaw second-set tie-break went against Djokovic, the end came rapidly.

Angry with himself for letting the chance slip away, his mood was not helped when he was given a code violation after kicking his chair over at the changeover.

While Berdych strengthened his grip with a series of comfortable holds in the third set, Djokovic appeared to lose focus and successive double faults in the eighth game enabled his opponent to gain a crucial break.

This time Berdych maintained his concentration, successfully serving out to secure another famous victory.