Not a cool move by Tomas Berdych
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The nastiness continued at the Australian Open.
Make that nasty and, let's face it, highly entertaining.
And was it any surprise that these two players were involved?
Berdych memorably motioned to fans in Spain to be quiet after he beat Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Masters six years ago -- not a wise move -- and Almagro's on-court antics have rubbed the likes of Marat Safin, Robin Soderling and Andy Murray the wrong way.
The fun began when Almagro, on the full run, hit Berdych on the arm with a crisp forehand at 5-5 in the fourth set, flooring the 2010 Wimbledon finalist.
"That was the only thing for me to do," in that situation, Almagro told reporters in Spanish.
Almagro, the 10th seed, went to the net to apologize, although Berdych was having none of it.
When Berdych won the match in a fourth-set tiebreaker, he shook only the umpire's hand. The vociferous crowd instantly booed him on Hisense Arena, and Berdych was then loudly jeered throughout his on-court interview.
Almagro, meanwhile, received enthusiastic applause as he exited the court.
"I think [Berdych's] judgement there is misplaced because that wasn't a high volley, that wasn't a really short ball, that's on the full run and that's an appropriate shot in the circumstances with not much court to work with," ESPN analyst Darren Cahill said in commentary. "He didn't hit him in the face. He should have shaken the hand of Nicolas."
Fellow ESPN analyst Brad Gilbert, on Twitter, added: "Really poor of the birdman not to shake hands with nico and he was way wrong, that was bad sportsmanship."
Berdych wasn't backing down in his news conference.
When asked if the shot from Almagro was intentional, he replied, "Yeah, could be."
"You always have enough space where to put the ball and not actually try to hit the other guy," Berdych also said.
Berdych's next opponent is none other than Nadal. They've made their peace, but Nadal will likely have a few more fans Tuesday.
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
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