Not sure what all this fuss is about. Berdych, like other big hitters, are always problematic for any top player since they can just get red hot and the opponent can do nothing about it.
I mean remember, Berdych was on his way to becoming a Rafa-killa early on in their careers. He was leading the H2H pretty convincingly. But after that match in 2006 where Berdych beat Rafa and hushed the Spanish crowd causing them to boo, he all of a sudden became Rafa's pet.. I'm not sure why. Yes, Berdych went into a slight slump from 2007 to pretty much 2010, but after 2010 when he got the confidence after beating Federer in Miami, he has still been unable to regain any sort of real belief against Rafa. It is quite ironic considering Berdych never looked that confident beating Federer before 2010 (bar Athens 2004) yet his mental strength against Rafa/Roger reveresed since then.
And like others have pointed, other big hitters/servers like Soderling and Tsonga have had success against Federer (and against Djokovic/Nadal as well) so it isn't like it is just against Federer. Big hitters ALWAYS have a chance against ANY player regardless of style or ranking. Look at Rosol for example. So Berdych's success isn't perplexing in any way, but the confusing part for me is why he has such belief against Federer the past few years but when it matters most against Rafa, he doesn't possess the same fearlessness against Nadal like pre-2007.
But as far as technical aspects of Berdych, it is actually a bit strange why he has had a little more success against Federer than someone like Soderling. Yes, Berdych volleys well, but IMO Soderling's skills at net are a bit underrated and Robin has a much better and more reliable serve (on both the first and second). Returning game can't really tell them apart, and movement as well it isn't really that big of a gap. I mean I guess it seems Berdych occassionally reads Federer's shots like a book sometimes, but that is something intangible anyways.
Good post. Big hitters always have a chance. And yes it's odd that Berdych has more confidence vs Federer these days than vs Nadal. Berdych's game is almost perfect to beat Nadal. He likes hitting up high and is one of the best guys on the tour at punishing high bouncing balls or weak second serves with both his forehand and backhand.
Also agree that it's strange that Soderling hasn't had more success vs Fed. Early in his career you could tell Soderling had the shotmaking to trouble Fed but he lost the plot and all confidence vs Federer. They've played like 14 TBs and Sod's only won 2 of those. In reality he should've won more matches.
Seems it's a lot about confidence for the big hitters vs the top3. Berdych right now seem to have confidence vs Fed but lack some confidence vs Nadal. That lack of confidence shows in TBs and on BPs. Berdych in a TB vs a top3 always feels like a question of time before he blows up and hits 3 UEs in a row. A smart top3 uses this to send deep groundstrokes or low slices that Berdych still wants to be aggressive with. Usually ends with terrible fail