The waiting was the hardest part

Updated: 2011-10-10 08:02

By Tang Yue (China Daily)

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Berdych ends long winless stretch by mostly breezing through China Open to claim title with victory over Cilic

Beijing - Thomas Berdych waited a very long time for this. Twenty-nine months, to be exact.

The Czech won his first title in Beijing and the seventh of his career, breaking a winless streak that stretched back to his championship at the BMW Open in May of 2009.

And that only came after he fought his way back from losing the first set to defeat Croatian Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, on Sunday at the National Tennis Center.

"To win this title really means a lot to me, you know, it has been 29 months; it has been quite a long time," said Berdych, the third seed in the tournament. "I'm really very happy with the result. I don't think I could have a better place to win the title than here in Beijing."

After easy victories in the first two rounds, Berdych stunned Spain's Fernando Verdasco, 6-1, 6-0.

He then reached his first final since Wimbledon in 2010 with a hard fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 victory over the top seed, France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The title helped the world's tenth-ranked player move closer to qualifying for the year-end Barclays ATP World Finals in London.

"Of course, I did a good move here to (get closer to qualifying) for London," he said. "I hope I can keep the level of game I had here, hopefully to win even more matches and qualify for London.

"Winning the championship is the best way to make you confident. There are still a few tournaments left in the season - next week in Shanghai will be very important. I'm very much looking forward to it."

Berdych earned sa bye into the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

"There is another opponent waiting for me in Shanghai - he is really hungry to beat me, the champion from Beijing," Berdych said. "It could probably be my teammate Radek Stepanek in the Davis Cup - it could be a very interesting match."

After a memorable run in last year's Grand Slams - he made the semifinals at the French Open before that final at Wimbledon - Berdych stalled a bit this season, topping out with a visit to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

But now that he's added a title, Berdych said he is pleased with his overall performance.

"I don't think it is not a very good season," he said. "There were a lot of quality results before this. Last year, of course, there was the final in Wimbledon, but also a lot of first-round exits in tournaments. This year is better."

In an earlier match, third seeds Michael Llodra of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia fought through two tiebreakers in straight sets to defeat unseeded Robert Linstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania 7-6(2), 7-6(4) to win the men's doubles championship.

Llodra and Zimonjic defeated top seeded Americans Mike and Bob Bryan in the semis, while the runners-up upset second seeds Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada en route to the final.

It was the second time the two pairs meet in a final. Llodra and Zimonjic won their first doubles title by defeating the same duo in Washington.

"Every time was very close," Zimonjic said. "Today I thought we played really well in the tiebreaker and important points. Really happy with the performance today. It's very important obviously to play well in the finals."

China Daily