He is one of the most intriguing tennis players on social media and has been a constant presence in the top-10 for the past four-and-a-half years.
Always stoic on the court, Tomas Berdych showed a humorous side no one knew existed, when he joined Twitter mid-2013.
On the court, he has hired a new coach in Dani Vallverdu at the end of last year and is hoping the Venezuelan can help take him from perennial contender to grand slam champion.
We caught up with the recently engaged Czech world No8 at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai to find out more about his life off the court.
You were out practising on both Saturday and Sunday in a horrendous sandstorm ahead of the tournament. How do you practise in conditions like that?
It’s pretty tough. It’s not easy to play in windy conditions, that’s probably the worst conditions we can have for tennis; and if you add the sand into it, then it’s even worse.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) February 21, 2015
I think it was more to just go there, try to have a hit, hope that it’s not going to be that bad. That’s basically it. You can’t expect that you’re going to have perfect rhythm and hit the balls extremely well and clean. But you have to do it because the conditions could be like that or similar on the day of the match and it’s always good to have tried it before.
So you never thought for a second ‘the weather is awful I’m staying in and not practise today’?
You can have that thought but at the end of the day you have to go there. It’s just easier that you’re focused on that ‘okay I’m going to go there, I’m going to try to use it as much as I can’.
Of course we set up the practice in the morning for an hour and a half and then we had to skip it after half an hour because it was pretty much impossible. But you have to make that effort, that’s what makes you stronger for the future.
Have you always been this disciplined, even as a kid?
Yes, I think I was pretty good with that since I was a kid. I never had a problem or issues with like ‘I’m going skip practice or go to a tournament here or there’.
— Tomáš Berdych (@tomasberdych) February 20, 2015
You’ve been quite a revelation on Twitter since you joined a year-and-a-half ago. Do you get the sense that your popularity has grown since then?
Definitely, yes. It’s very difficult to show the personality when you’re on court. Because on court, you have to be really focused for the match and whatever it takes, you have to be like that. I can really see that it might be boring, because we are all kind of shaped into the same direction, which you have to go on if you want to be really successful.
So I think Twitter is a great opportunity to bring something else to the audience and all the people around. You have some down time in between, unless you’re spending all your hours on the practice courts. People want to know about us, that we are normal humans like everyone else, doing normal stuff.
Do you feel you were misunderstood before you got a chance to show another side of yourself on Twitter?
In one way, yes, but you can’t really be upset about it because I didn’t have any option to change it, to give a different view on that. On the court I’m really focused and there’s not much happening around you. Twitter gave me the option to do it.
— Tomáš Berdych (@tomasberdych) January 16, 2015
You haven’t set a date, but do you think you’re the kind of guy who will be heavily involved in wedding planning, or you’ll leave it to your fiancée Ester (Satorova)?
I think we are pretty good in combining our ideas. What’s good is that it’s never she’s saying white and I’m saying black. We’re pretty much on the same line with whatever we want to do and how we want to do it. So I think this is going to be very simple and very easy.
You’re sponsored and clothed by H&M, a fashion brand, and you do so many photo shoots. Do you ever get self-conscious being part of any of those shoots?
I think it’s very fun actually. It’s something different and I like to try different things. It’s part of it, definitely it is. It’s what you have to expect when you are partnering with a company like H&M. I think it goes really well together. You have days in between your tournaments and if you plan it well, it’s good fun. The team is always great, I don’t see any problems at all.
Has Ester given you any modelling tips?
The good thing is that when you do some stuff with the men, shoots are much simpler, especially with sportsmen, it’s much easier, unless we do some action shots. This is much easier. The creativity still stays with the girls.
You’ve shown some amazing form in recent tournaments, but then it looks like the finishing touch hasn’t really been there. Do you feel you need to work on your killer instinct?
I think it’s many things together and combined. I think the opposition is getting better and better. It’s also that the journey is long, it’s not about one match, so you have to keep doing well all week, or two weeks when you’re talking about slams. I think that’s the magic about tennis, that it’s not one match only.
You have to really keep yourself very fresh and prepared all the time. I see it as a positive thing that the results I’ve made so far are in the right direction. There wasn’t enough time to get all those new things implemented in my game, which always takes some time. But already now I can feel that I managed to cut the time, quite a lot. And I can see the results.
So no regrets in any of the matches recently?
It’s not about regret. I can see positive signs, especially in the ones that I’ve lost. Firstly, there is a big change in terms of how to approach the game with various plans.
Also, what are the things I have to keep improving on and to be able to do that for the entire match to win. I can see all those things. It’s just a matter of time, especially time on the practice courts.