“Third round is nice, but it’s definitely not a meta where I want to stay. If I maintain my frame of play, my quality and my focus, I have a chance to go into the game the way I do. imagine. And if I can do it, I think I could beat Paul too. I’ll be surprised. But I’ll come back to it on Saturday,” Lehečka said.
The Czech tennis player will face for the first time the fifteenth player in the world, Paul. The 26-year-old American’s peak at Wimbledon is last year’s round of 16. Leheček’s style of play reminds him of Argentinian Francisco Cerúndol, whom he beat three times in the second round 6-2.
“Although I would say Paul is slightly better in all aspects. It’s true that Cerúndolo beat him last week in Eastbourne, but the grass there was extremely slow,” Lehečka said. “Paul is still a bit more experienced, certainly more than me. It will be another challenge, but the good news is that it won’t be a radically different game than if I were going to play with (Milos) Raonic, for example. I’m used to this style of play and I’ll try to prepare for specific elements of his game,” he added.
The thirty-seventh player in the world has so far not lost a single serve at Wimbledon. He manages to focus on his serve and returns, which he honed before the tournament with help from Berdych. “We’re on the grass, where the well-hit first ball kind of dictates the change. There are times when the opponent sweeps under their feet with an incredible shot, but the serve and the return are the two shots that write the most,” Lehečka said.
Unlike slower surfaces, it doesn’t have to focus on maximum punch and speed and can focus more on precision. “It’s very different on grass than on clay. When a good serve is hit here, no one can get close to the tarp and turn it over somehow. Here, good balls are rewarded with a fifteenth, that’s how I play. Compared to Stuttgart or the Queen’s Club, the grass here is even faster. But I’ve definitely changed my mind. I’ve improved my consistency and I’m more confident on the balls when I have to parry a break point,” said Lehečka.
He believes Berdych’s influence is already showing in his game, having worked with the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up since the spring. “That’s what we entered into the collaboration with. Bringing something to my tennis and being able to use it in other units, for example in fitness. Even my physical trainer talks to Tomáš about what he has done and how he regenerated when he played late at night. These are details you haven’t written down somewhere in a book, and any insight from such a former player is helpful. I believe that now on grass, his experience is more valuable to us than on clay.
He has not yet dared to assess whether the grass will be his most appreciated surface. This is his second time at Wimbledon. “If I push back the maximum of this year at the Australian Open and I’m here in the semi-finals, maybe I’ll change my mind. We’re still a long way from that,” he smiled. “But I feel good on grass. Over time, in a few years, when I’ve played more of these seasons on grass, I’ll probably have more rights to assess and say: I’m fine with it,” Lehečka added.
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