As the regular men’s tennis season enters its final few months stretch, the year-end championships in London is what they’re fighting for. With Nadal, Djokovic and Murray securing the first three spots, the five remaining places are still up for grabs. With back to back tournaments lined up and plenty of points at stake, the coming weeks will be crucial for the potential contenders. Among these are number four and five on the ATP race, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych, who are both in action in Asia this week.
The Asian hard court swing is a regular feature of the ATP calendar and attracts many top ranked players each year. With the “Big Four” sitting out these 250 level tournaments in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur this week, the stage is set for others to shine. Spaniard David Ferrer, who enjoyed the best season of his career last year and made his Grand Slam final debut at Roland Garros in May, is at the brink of his big breakthrough. The man from Valencia is one of the hardest workers on the tour. At age 31 and playing the tennis of his life, Ferrer is one of the few Spaniards whose game translates well on both hard courts and clay courts. He won his first Masters 1000 title in Paris last year and was a finalist at the year-end championships in Shanghai way back in 2007.
The Valencia native has consistently finished inside the top 10 for the last three years and is knocking on the door of his maiden Grand Slam title. However, his record against the top three is not one to boast about, as Ferrer does not possess that big serve or weapon so essential in the men’s game today. Top seed in Malaysia this week, the Spaniard is looking to capture his 21st ATP World Tour title and improve his chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November.
Another player who looks in good position to qualify for London is Czech Tomas Berdych. Towering at 6’5”, this Monte Carlo resident has the guns to challenge the best of the best. He showed his potential when he made the finals of Wimbledon in 2010, beating both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in succession, before eventually going down to Rafael Nadal. While he’s had considerable success in the lower-tier events, Berdych has only one Masters 1000 title to his name. He has made the quarterfinals or better of all four Grand Slams and led his country to a historic Davis Cup win in Prague last year. The Czech goes deep into the draws week in and week out, and is one of the most consistent performers on the tour, outside the Big Four. Berdych headlines the field in Bangkok this week. A win here for the two-time former semifinalist will boost his chances for the World Tour Finals. If he qualifies, this will be Berdych’s fourth straight appearance at the prestigious event.
So the coming weeks should see tennis fans at the edge of their seats as the players fight it out to secure the remaining berths for the season’s final contest in London.