For the past four or five years the big question on many tennis fans' lips were whether or not Andy Murray would ever win a Grand Slam and beat the best players on the biggest occasions. With Murray answering that question with an emphatic yes with an Olympic Gold Medal and US Open win, my attention has turned to who will be the next man, outside the dominance of Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal to win their first Grand Slam.
I believe that man could be Tomas Berdych.
Berdych is a player who has enjoyed a very solid career but without the success in the major tournaments to class himself as a truly great player. However, he is strong on all four Grand Slam surfaces and has proven that he can beat the best players, enjoying particularly good records against Roger Federer and Andy Murray over their previous meetings.
He has also enjoyed a decent start to 2013. He matched his previous best run at Australia, making the quarter finals for the the third year in a row. He has followed that up with a decent performance in Marseille last week, reaching the final before losing in three close sets to Jo Wilfried Tsonga, and he is currently progressing nicely in Dubai, reaching the quarter finals with two straight set victories.
Which all leads me to the conclusion that he stands a very good chance of winning the French Open. I'm sure many observers will not agree with me and I can understand why. The top five players in the world are all formidable opponents on clay and anybody outside that group will have to perform brilliantly to reach the semifinals.
Berdych, though, has those kind of performances in his locker. In 2010, the best year of his career when he reached the Wimbledon final, he made the semi finals at Roland Garros. If he can peak at the right time, and have some good results on clay over the next couple of months he could repeat this.
The 2013 French Open will also be the most open in years. Over the past decade it has been dominated by the brilliance of Rafael Nadal but it is unlikely he will be at his best this year after such a long layoff with a knee injury. Roger Federer is looking more vulnerable than at any stage in his career, and Andy Murray has never really threatened to win on clay. Novak Djokovic is the one big obstacle. He looks better than ever this year and will be desperate to add the one Grand Slam to his collection that is currently missing, after running Nadal so close in the final last year.
It is certainly a tough task, but if there is one player on the men's tour who could cause an upset, Tomas Berdych could be that man.
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