Tomas Berdych. Good, sure... but is he really top four material?
People are talking about Tomas Berdych as a potential world top four player. And sure, he has had a really good start to the season. He has won a title, and only lost to Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open.
Is he a potential top four player, though? It's still hard to get into the top four. Not that he doesn’t have the capacity to do so, because he has the game both to do that and to win a Grand Slam tournament.
But to step into the top tier of the game, he'll have to beat the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray at the very biggest tournaments in the world - and ensure that he produces consistently better results than at least one of those guys in the Grand Slams and the Masters series events.
Merely winning titles in other events won’t make a difference against the big four, and he knows it. He has been on the circuit for quite a while now, has had some great years and reached a Grand Slam final, but his road has invariably been blocked by one of those players.
Over the last few years, the only way to break into the top four was for one of them to get injured. And now that Wawrinka is in the mix as well, it's probably harder than it ever has been to take that step.
Because make no mistake: the big four are still the top four if everyone is fit and at their best. Murray will certainly recover now - he is already on the way back to his best. Federer is back. Nadal is still amazing. Djokovic, even if his season didn’t start perfectly, is still hard to beat in Grand Slam semi-finals.
So today, there isn’t a lot of room for a Berdych - or any other player - to enter the top four, or even the top five. I’m not even sure that Berdych will secure his fifth ranking for long, if Wawrinka keeps playing well, and if Federer and Murray come back.
Federer is back on track, and is going to win a lot of matches in the big tournaments. As long as he doesn't get injured, and assuming Murray comes back to the top too - which he will - then Berdych could well find himself getting booted out of the top five, even if he plays very well.
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- Tomas Berdych
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