SHENZHEN, CHINA – Tomas Berdych is widely known as “Bird Man,” but lately his propensity to post on social media—including Weibo, China’s version of Twitter—has earned him the nickname, “Internet Addict Boy" in China. Berdych arrived in China in Monday and is the top seed at the Shenzhen Open this week as the ATP kicks off its three week, five-tournament Asian circuit. In a special to SI.com, Berdych sat down with contributor James Pham to write about his travels, interests and final push towards the year-end finals in London.
Hello from Shenzhen! I arrived on Sunday evening and when I got to the hotel, I quickly went to the gym to get my body going a bit after a long trip from Europe. Then had a good sleep, woke up in the morning, and again, did a little warm up in the gym and came to the courts to have a practice in the afternoon. They’re very fast and I’m getting used to it after coming from Europe, so it’s good to be here.
Some players deal with time zone changes better than others. I’m lucky that I deal with time changes pretty well. Sometimes it can be brutal, changing from indoors coming to outdoors where it’s hot and humid. You don’t have much time to get used to it, but in the end, it’s the same for all of us. You need to keep yourself very organized, meaning what to eat and when to eat, and when you have to go to sleep, you really have to go to sleep. Sometimes you say to yourself that you’re not really tired when it’s time to go to sleep, but when it’s 3 a.m. in the morning and you have to get up the next day, you have to be really professional and strict with yourself.
I usually have a good time in China and have seen good results, winning in Beijing in 2011 and runner-up last year, so I’m going to try to follow up on that. I’ll try to do my best, to have a good week—one by one, all the way for the title in Shenzhen. But my goal, my plan is to secure a berth at the World Tour Finals. Every week, there will be a lot of opponents who are going to try to not make it successful for me, but that’s fine. It would be ideal after leaving China, the last tournament here, to have it secured and to make this goal happen.
I started off the year well, but haven’t had great results lately. Nobody wants to lose. I’m just trying to do the same things that I was doing at the beginning of the year. The season is very long and it’s always the same thing. When you’re winning, it’s all fine; it’s how it’s supposed to be. But when you lose a couple of matches then everybody keeps asking the same questions. I know some people will say it’s because of getting married, but it’s definitely not a distraction at all. I think it has nothing to do with my career. It’s just another step in my personal life, like my interest in fashion.
Fashion is part of my wife Ester’s life and as a woman, of course, she likes to dress nicely. She likes to follow trends and stuff, so I also like to follow fashion, but not too crazy; it’s something that I like to look at. I know a lot of people talk about what I wear. You’ll always find positive and negative reactions. In the end, I’m working with a designer team. It’s the way they want to come up with the collection and they’ll ask whether I like it or not and we can maybe change some small things but it’s not the way that I would be making the whole collection. But in the end, I think they’re succeeding at what they want. If you look at it, it’s only me who can create some talk about fashion, even if it’s positive or negative. Because when you look at the others, it’s pretty much the same. So that’s the goal with H&M, to be seen, to be talked about.
That’s also why I like social media. I even got help from a Chinese friend a few years ago to join China's version of Twitter, Weibo. I’ll have a lot of chances to be on Weibo because I’m playing three tournaments in a row in China. I think it’s a good way to bring some insight besides just being on the tennis court that the fans can see and follow. Trying to keep it entertaining all the time is a bit of a challenge but I like trying to bring my fans something extra as well as on the tennis courts. I don’t know if it makes me a more popular player or not—I think that depends on whoever is following. But I think that it’s a different way how you can express yourself because most of the time what people can see is you just being on the tennis court and you can’t really show something else than being really focused and really trying to play because tennis is trying to win every point. In the end, this could be quite boring for spectators, so this is a good way to show something else—what you like to do, how’s your personality, and I think that’s a good opportunity.