WHAT HAPPENED: The air was heavy and so was the hitting as No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych dispatched Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour and 48 minutes on Sunday to storm into the US Open fourth round for the third consecutive year. Despite a two-hour rain delay early in the second set, the Czech never lost his rhythm or his serve in the match. He faced just two break points in the match and had 13 aces and 31 winners.
On serve in the sixth game of the first set, Gabashvili, 29, went up 40-0 but three double faults (of his ten total for the match) eventually give the break to Berdych, 28, for a 4-2 lead. As Berdych was later serving for the set, Gabashvili earned a break point thanks to a Berdych double fault, but the Czech saved it and went on to win the first set, 6-3 in 38 minutes.
Gabashvili, who is coached by former Argentine player Guillermo Canas, called for the trainer after the first set as dark clouds rolled over the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mother Nature gave him a reprieve as play was suspended due to thunderstorms while the players were on serve 2-1.
Back after a rain delay, Berdych broke in the fifth game of the second set to go up 3-2. Leading 4-2, a forehand error from his opponent gave Berdych a double break for 5-2 and the 2012 US Open semifinalist sealed the second set with an ace, 6-2 in 31 minutes.
In the third set, Berdych imposed himself quickly, converting his first break point chance for a 1-0 lead. Gabashvili, who has won 7 ATP Challenger titles in his career, wasn’t able to create any break point chances during the set to get back into the match. It took only one match point for Berdych to send Gabashvili home.
“I’m really happy with the way I handled it. Today the conditions were not easy at all and I’m really, really glad and happy to make it happen this way,” said Berdych.
Berdych also thanked the crowd, who waited out the rain delay to see him win.
“It’s a very special place. It's a place that I played my first Grand Slam and it’s always going to stay in my mind,” he said. “Even though the weather was not good and I know that it’s very difficult… thanks for staying. I hope you like it and thanks for coming.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Berdych will face unseeded Dominic Theim of Austria next. The Czech, with nine ATP titles to his name, now increases his wins over Russian opponents to 13 in a row.
THE QUESTION: Can Berdych get past the upstart Theim in the next round to advance to the quarterfinals?