Critics suggesting Tomas Berdych lacked strategic nous were roundly silenced with an impressive show at the ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday night, says Annabel Croft.
Having already lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in London this week, the Czech eased to a straight-sets triumph over David Ferrer to reignite his hopes of making the semi-finals.
It was sweet revenge following defeat by Ferrer at the Paris Masters five days previously, but it was also the manner of victory that impressed Croft.
She told Sky Sports: "He certainly didn't seem like someone who doesn't have tactics out there who's known as just a ball striker.
"He absolutely has tactics before he goes on court. Berdych said he had learned a few things playing Ferrer in Paris. He was close then and he wanted to change and tweak and use some of those effective tactics, like serving out wide.
"He knew the little things he wanted to do and he executed most of these things and he will be so happy how that match went."
With Ferrer already out of the season-ending tournament, the 28-year-old Berdych faces the might of world number one Rafael Nadal on Friday.
Sky Sports tennis expert Peter Fleming believes Berdych is benefitting from focusing on his own strengths, but warns his tactics will have to be spot on if he is to avoid a 16th successive defeat against the Spaniard.
"Berdych needs to go for broke just a little more," Fleming said. "It's all about the balance between being conservative and consistent and going for shots.
"It's more difficult to hit return winners against Rafa because he has that leftie slider that goes into Berdych's backhand which is not his strong return. It's strange to watch Berdych because he has a losing record against all the top players.
"Why is that? Why can't he create the same damage? Even a player like Wawrinka has a better record. Perhaps he wants it more. I'd like to see Berdych go for it a little bit extra and raise his game. He has a lot of tools like Juan Martín del Potro and he can threaten the very best guys."
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