Berdych, ranked 52nd in the world, 18 places above Murray, has accomplished something most players can only dream about. He beat the finest player in the game, Basle's Roger Federer, at the Athens Olympic Games. That was Federer's last loss in 2004.
Although Murray has not finished growing, he says he hopes he does not get any taller than the 6ft 2in at which he stands now. He does not want to struggle to get down to play low shots a problem he inflicted on his 6ft 4in opponent here en route to winning, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. He now plays the 19th-ranked Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. "It's not going to be entirely different to this match [with Berdych]," Murray said. "Gonzalez serves big and hits a huge forehand. I hope he has an off-day. Just a few months ago, I was watching these guys on TV."
Murray showed a great deal of nous, playing slices that made Berdych stoop and drop-shots that brought the Czech scurrying forward. Murray also produced two of the memorable shots of the day: a reflex volley while moving in front of the net, and a feathery high backhand drop-volley.
Having frustrated Berdych in the first set, however, Murray began to show flashes of temper as the Czech worked his way back into the match. At one point, the Scot was fortunate not to be warned for breaking a racket.
The opening set was a joy for Murray's supporters after he had saved four break points in the fourth game. Berdych, becoming slightly unhinged by Murray's tormenting tactics, double-faulted twice to be broken to love at 3-3.
Not that Murray was able to finish the set with ease. Serving at 5-4, he had to save two break points and needed four set points. Berdych bounced his racket after netting a forehand on the last of them.
With Berdych continuing to look uncomfortable at the start of the second set, Murray failed to capitalise on two opportunities to break in the opening game. Berdych went on to break for 3-1, though he had a touch of luck with a net cord. Murray was broken a second time in the eighth game. As in the opening set, Murray broke to love at 3-3 in the final set and served the match out to 15, Berdych hitting a forehand drive wide on the second match point after an hour and 54 minutes.
Greg Rusedski, who advanced to the quarter-finals in St Petersburg yesterday with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against the American Kevin Kim, reflected on Murray's win against Henman.
"It's exciting," the 32-year-old Rusedski said, "because it's the young and the old guard coming together. You've got to be impressed with what Andy did, because he lost his serve in the second set and came back and won in three sets in a tie-breaker."
Asked if playing the 31-year-old Henman for the first time was a mental test for Murray, Rusedski said: "I think he passed the mental test months before that match with Tim. I think he's just got it. You can see it with what he's done last summer and the last two weeks.
"He's already proved himself and I think he's going to be around for a long time so long as, touch wood, he stays healthy. That's the key thing for him for the rest of his career really."
Rusedski, who defeated the home favourite Dmitry Tursunov in his first-round match on Wednesday, will now face the second seed, Sweden's Thomas Johansson, in the quarter-finals.Reuse content