French Open: Tomas Berdych advances to third round after clash with Malek Jaziri

French Open: Tomas Berdych advances to third round after clash with Malek Jaziri

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic defeated Tunisian Malek Jaziri, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, in the French Open on Thursday.

jeffrey-waitkevich
Jeffrey Waitkevich

Tomas Berdych met Malek Jaziri for the first time in his career on the Suzanne-Lenglen Court. It was Berdych who emerged victorious in this second-round match of the French Open; a four set, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, win took the Czech just two hours and thirteen minutes.

Berdych Gets Off To Hot Start

Breezing through the first three games, Berdych found a wealth of success via big serves and some rocket winners. The seventh seed hit five winners en route to a 3-0 lead while his Tunisian adversary had that many total points. In the fourth game, Jaziri began to show some life--capitalizing on some weak returns--and the fourth game put him on the scoreboard. Three consecutive errors on serve from the world number 72 dug too deep of a hole as he was broken at 30; credit that to some very well-placed returns from the scorching Berdych. Leading 5-1, the Czech fired off three straight serves that weren't returned. A cross-court forehand winner finished the love hold on set point. Berdych looked relatively unstoppable after a set lasting just 29 minutes, but Jaziri wouldn't be put down so easily.

Jaziri Responds

From the first game, Jaziri looked like he had found his game. Per contra, Berdych began his struggles. Nonetheless, after two games, the score was even at 1-1. The third game nearly doomed Jaziri--who racked up forehand errors--but some difficulties returning from his opponent proved to be his saving grace while an ace finished the hold. Another pair of holds brought the set score to 3-2 in Jaziri's favor before things really went his way. At 40-15, it seemed to be business as usual for the world number eight. A big backhand return from the Tunisian followed by a forehand drove long leveled the score at deuce before a bad bounce off the net landed out--giving the 32-year-old a chance to break. The 30-year-old Czech couldn't get a forehand over the net. He was broken for the first time and trailing, 2-4.

The pressure was now on both players; Berdych had to respond; Jaziri had to hold on to his break. That was no problem for Jaziri as he closed out his 8-point run with a love hold. It only got worse for Berdych as he was broken at love to lose the set, 2-6.

Tomas Berdych reacts during the second round of the French Open. Photo: JUlian Finney/Getty Images

The biggest difference statistically came in Berdych's second serve points won. After winning over 60 percent of them in the first set, that number dropped to a putrid eleven percent in the second. Jaziri certainly stepped up, but a clearly-rattled Czech let his mistakes compound, leading to his undoing and eleven unforced errors.

Berdych Bounces Back

At this point, it was imperative that Berdych made a statement from the get-go. After an 18-shot rally gave him some momentum, he saw a break point chance at 30-40. The Czech botched it on a forehand drove long, but a shot into the net from the other side gave him another chance. That one too was squandered before a Jaziri drop shot brought him to the net, where he finished a wide-angled volley to get a third break point chance. That one would not slip away as the seventh seed broke serve. The net game was also a big one as Berdych held at love without seeing a single serve punched back into play. He was now rolling as he broke serve for the fourth time on the day without losing a point. Finally, after winning twelve points in a row, the Czech hit a backhand out wide. That minor blip proved to be no problem as he kept rolling to a hold at 15.

With Berdych leading 4-0, bagel watch--something the Czech should be familiar with--was activated. It was quickly turned off when Jaziri held cleanly at 15. After another hold from the world number eight, the score favored him 5-2. A trifecta of errors from the Tunisian gave Berdych three set points. Two winners from the world number 72 brought the hold back in reach; a Berdych error trifecta sealed the hold, and the set would live on. Powered by two aces, Berdych held at 15 and took a two sets to one lead.

Getting his second serve points won percentage up to around 70 percent was crucial for Berdych, who can run hot or cold. In this set he was hot as his number of winners increased and his number of unforced errors decreased.

Berdych Squeaks By To Close It Out

The set held true without a break point chance for the first seven games. That gave Jaziri a 4-3 lead. At 30-30 in the eighth game, Berdych missed a forehand cross-court, giving his opponent a chance to break and serve for the set. The Czech rocketed a forehand into the corner to save that one, but he followed it with a double fault to gift away another one. An off-balanced volley somehow saved another break before a big forehand winner and an even bigger serve out wide saved the hold. Another array of errors from Jaziri put him in a two break point hole--down 15-40. Unlike his adversary, Berdych wouldn't let it slip away as he quickly hit a forehand down the line to finish off the break. With the momentum against him, the Tunisian hit a big backhand return crosscourt for a winner. That would end up being his last point of the 2016 French Open as four unforced errors ended his run.

With a four-set win, Berdych will move on to the third round, where he will face-off against world number 27 Pablo Cuevas. The Czech was victorious in their lone previous encounter.

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