Great match report TMH, as always.
Andy clearly hates Armstrong. You could tell, in retrospect, that he was none too happy even before he'd struck a ball. I'd still love to know how much notice was given of the change in court. The match was also earlier than it might have been. I know players have to deal with these things, but I do have some sympathy with the idea that you prepare to play on a certain court, which you know plays a certain way. Had Andy known it was going to be Armstrong surely he would have prepared to play on Armstrong, knowing it is quicker than Ashe. Also, in terms of the match, Andy would have planned for it to be at round about a certain time. It ended up being brought forward effectively. I bet that messed up some of his preparations, such as when to eat etc. He was not a happy bunny.
Whatever happened, Andy found a way. I knew he would. I know he threw a racquet, and I know he was muttering a bit, but the difference for me was that he was clearly livid with being messed about - not that he'll say that - and was playing, to be blunt, crap, in the early part of the match, but he didn't lose control to the degree that he stopped thinking, as he might have done in the past. He regrouped and got on with it.
I think we all know that if Berdych plays well he won't be easy. However, I think the semi being on Ashe will help Andy. He will also get the crowds he so loves. I have a weird theory that the Olympics experience has made Andy a bit of a crowd junkie to be honest, in the nicest possible way. I know he has always loved lively crowds, but he seems to really feed off it now. Does anyone share my view that the crowd might get behind Andy more than Berdych in the semi? I think they might, what with Andy being a former finalist, and then getting to the Wimbledon final this year, and then of course the Olympics gold. There seems to be real warmth towards him in the US. Once Armstrong had filled up last night, although it took long enough, a lot of the crowd were rooting for Andy.
I know Andy's head to head with Berdych. I think we all do. I'm choosing to hold on to the win in Dubai in February this year, where Andy won, before going on to beat a certain Serbian in the semi's. Sure, he lost to Fed that time, but that isn't happening this time, is it?
I just think it could all come down to who wants it more. I just think Andy has shown at the USO that he wants it. I also think that maybe losing to one of the top 3 (well, two really) is something Andy could deal with in time. Losing to the 7 in the world might be harder to stomach. That isn't to say I want Andy to dump a load of pressure on to himself. I want him to go out there, fight for it, and show Berdych who is boss. If he could arrange to give him a whack with a forehand as well that might be fun
I wonder who will come through on the other side? I know the obvious name is Djokovic, but I wonder about that. It was interesting to hear Petch say after Andy's match last night that Andy might prefer Berdych in the semi's, but it would probably be Federer. How wrong could he be! I still think schedule could play a part yet.