After Legg Mason loss, Berdych complains about early start, says he might not return in '11
WASHINGTON – After losing to unseeded Xavier Malisse in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic quarterfinals, Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych complained that organizers made him play in Friday's first match and said he might not enter the tournament in 2011.
"I was feeling like I was still sleeping," said Berdych, adding that he thought he deserved preferential treatment as the hard-court tournament's No. 1-seeded player.
"Maybe I'm not going to come next year," he said. "If you like the tournament, if you like the place, then you always want to come back. But if you get an experience like that, we will see."
Malisse beat Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, adding to the string of upsets at the U.S. Open tuneup event. Malisse knocked off No. 5-seeded John Isner in third round Thursday, when the surprises also included No. 2-seeded Andy Roddick's straight-set loss to Gilles Simon.
The 62nd-ranked Malisse reached his second semifinal of the year and will face eighth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis for a berth in Sunday's final. Baghdatis, a 2006 Australian Open finalist, eliminated third-seeded Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (3), 6-4 in Friday's second quarterfinal.
The other quarterfinals were scheduled to be played at night: No. 13-seeded Simon vs. David Nalbandian, and No. 4-seeded Marin Cilic vs. Janko Tipsarevic.
Berdych wasn't thrilled about playing Malisse at noon Friday after not getting to sleep until 2 a.m. the previous night because his third-round match Thursday ended at 11:15 p.m. Malisse's ended at 10:30 p.m.
Tournament director Jeff Newman said Berdych's match was played first Friday because Baghdatis got off court later Thursday — at 11:38 p.m.
"Suitable rest was more needed for Baghdatis, simply from a fairness standpoint," Newman said.
Action was supposed to begin Thursday at 4 p.m., but was delayed nearly 4½ hours by a thunderstorm.
Newman said he would reach out to Berdych and try to persuade the player not to skip the tournament in the future.
"That's obviously something we hope will not be the case," Newman said. "We tried to do the best we could, focusing on what's best for our No. 1 seed. Ultimately, I think, players react when they lose a match. Hopefully, he'll cool down and feel better. ... He's a great player and one we hope to have every year."
Berdych is a career-best No. 8, thanks to a breakout season at the Grand Slam tournaments, reaching his first major semifinal at the French Open, then his first major final at Wimbledon. But Friday's loss means he will remain without a singles title of any sort in 2010.
Malisse, meanwhile, hasn't won a title or even played in a tour final since 2007. He was a 2002 semifinalist at Wimbledon and once was ranked in the top 20.
With Americans Roddick, Isner, Mardy Fish and Ryan Sweeting all losing Thursday, this is the first time no U.S. players reached the quarterfinals at Washington's tournament, which dates to 1969. And because Roddick will drop from No. 9 to no better than No. 12 on Monday, no U.S. man will be in the top 10 for the first time since the computer rankings began in 1973.
"They'll be fine," said Malisse, a 30-year-old Belgian who lives in Sarasota, Fla. "Everything will be OK."
He said he's been bothered off and on this week by a problem on the bottom of his big right toe, but he was able to hang in there with Berdych on lengthy baseline exchanges in whipping wind that topped 20 mph.
Malisse broke Berdych in two of the Czech's first three service games, including to 4-1 in a game that included eight deuces. Malisse converted his fourth break chance of the game when Berdych missed forehands on consecutive points.
Both players held serve relatively easily for much of the second set, until Malisse double-faulted on break point to fall behind 5-3. Berdych then served out that set, ending it with an ace at 128 mph, followed by a backhand winner down the line that he marked with a fist pump and a yell.
Malisse, though, quickly gained control in the final set, breaking to 3-1 when Berdych pushed a backhand long. Malisse ended the match with another break, helped by Berdych missing volleys on the final two points.
Told of Berdych's comments, Malisse said he didn't mind the early start.
"You've got to get through it," he said. "I was actually happy to play at 12, because it's probably a little cooler than at 2:30 or 3."