Tomas Berdych believes the thrashing he suffered at the hands of Roger Federer in the 2017 Australian Open was one of the best performances he's seen from an opponent. Federer returned from a six month layoff due to a knee injury and went on to win the first Grand Slam of the year, beating Rafael Nadal in the final.
Berdych met the 35-year-old in the third round in Melbourne and lost in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in what was his 17th loss in 23 meetings with the Swiss.
The world number 13 claimed that it was the best performance from Federer, where even the seven-time Wimbledon winner seemed to be surprised at how good he was.
"It was kind of a strange match for me," Berdych said as quoted on ATP World Tour.
"The way he played was really incredible. I've played him so many times in the past. I almost want to say it was the best I've seen him play."
Berdych also spoke about how he was not sure if he was playing badly or if Federer was simply too good for him.
"I was under so much pressure, how he played. From the first point I had to defend. I didn't know how I played, he either hit a winner or missed a shot. There was nothing in between. So it's tough to judge how well or badly I played. I wasn't in charge of any shot – that was quite unusual," he noted.
"After the match, I was quite positive that he could go all the way and win it. In the end, he did. I think he's the only one who can do something like that – after a six months' absence from tournaments and win it. It was his first tournament and he won it. With all respect, it's amazing."
Berdych – who is currently participating in the Rotterdam Open – is hopeful of winning a Grand Slam, as the closest he came to doing so was at the Wimbledon in 2010, where he lost to Nadal in the final.
"My goal remains to win a Grand Slam," he said and added, "Everything in my game is there, but it needs to click together for two weeks. Federer really found a way to play well, and win, by himself.
"In the past when some players reached 31 or 32, it might have been one of their last seasons. But it isn't any more. Tennis at the highest level sees players with their own physios and teams.
"It really helps and extends careers. Players are taking more breaks in between and it helps to prolong careers. I hope I can play my best tennis in the future."