Berdych without win but is U.S. Open dark horse

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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych would not change a thing despite winning nothing so far this season but a victory at this week's Toronto Masters would confirm the Czech's status as a U.S. Open dark horse.

A danger man on all surfaces having advanced to the Wimbledon final and the French Open semi-finals this year, he may well be at his best on the North American hardcourts where he reached the last eight at Indian Wells and the Miami final.

"Definitely," Darren Cahill, a former coach of Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, told Reuters when asked if Berdych could walk away from Flushing Meadows with the year's final grand slam. "Like a lot of Czechs he is a late bloomer.

"His turnaround tournament was Indian Wells. The thing that's different now is he is playing with confidence, he can win matches when he's not playing well."

While tennis big guns world number one Rafael Nadal, number two Novak Djokovic and number three Roger Federer will launch their hardcourt campaigns in Toronto later this week, Berdych is already finding his footing on the pavement.

The 24-year-old Czech has one hardcourt event under his belt, reaching the quarter-finals of the Washington Classic last week, and eased himself into the Toronto Masters Tuesday with a 6-2 6-4 second-round win over Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky.


While Berdych admitted the loss to Nadal in the Wimbledon final did linger, he said he would not trade his consistent run of play for one more victory.

"For me it's important to play three, four, maybe five semis, some finals and have really good consistency than to win one tournament and then lose another four in the first round."

Berdych's season made a dramatic turn at Indian Wells where he reached the quarter-finals in March.

The following week he powered his way into the Miami final, beating Federer before falling to Andy Roddick.

The Czech was slow to find his form on clay but by the time he had reached Paris looked right at home at Roland Garros, taking out Andy Murray on way to the French Open semi-finals.

Berdych took it one step further at the All England Club, dispatching Federer in the quarter-finals and Djokovic in the semis to reach his first grand slam final.

"I hope I'm not done and I hope that still the bigger results are waiting for me," said Berdych.

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)