As the occasion of his one-year anniversary on Twitter, let us raise a glass of nectar and salute Tomas Berdych, No. 6 in the ATP World Tour rankings but quite possibly No. 1 in terms of tweeted glory. The 6-foot-5 Czech, no stranger to power, has wielded the social medium to date with uncanny aplomb and deft delivery, mastering it as a star-to-fan communication tool and bringing fans into his day-to-day experience. (That's a fact: Berdych tweets about 5.2 times a day, a quite high average for active pros.)
No wonder he was TENNIS.com's Tweeter of the Year in 2013, his first year in the habit. Now, the ATP World Tour site has a great Q&A with the one branded T-Berd by some (Brad Gilbert), as he speaks to his tweeting ways and lists his own Top 5 players in terms of Twitter cred.
The sum of Berdych's 1,740-plus tweets to date has made for a smart, perhaps even subconscious move on his part. The word on Berdych among many fans and onlookers in pro tennis used to akin to this: "Behold, the Iceman cometh." But in truth, he's hardly the frosty type, nowhere near Val Kilmer's character turn in Top Gun. (Yes, I went there.) Social media has melted what was once the likely unfair but token response to Berdych: that he was detached or onerous. (True, at times, as when refusing to shake Nicolas Almagro's hand at the Australian Open, he has not done himself favors.)
While Twitter makes many a slave to endless hours of both fairly usable updates and throwaway zings, Berdych has whipped it into a frenzy with his good humor. The one with a trademark booming serve has made the medium serve him. And he has done so by engaging fans, false foes (his exchanges with @PseudoFed are fantastic), and commentators alike (do see any quips he and @bgtennisnation swap).
Berdych can be by turns visually droll ...
... wonderfully self-deprecating ...
and entertaining even in the most mundane moments of a tennis star's life, sharing shards of that with a fan public that always craves more.
He's refined his tweeting craft over time, using an assortment of mobile apps to merge vintage and/or quirky and/or timely photos and text bubbles that he writes himself, turning his tweeted persona into an amalgam of fun. On the eve of his one-year mark on Twitter, Tomas Berdych, I salute you.
@jonscott9 thx for great article...My ego is in heaven— Tomáš Berdych (@tomasberdych) November 20, 2013
(Just don't feel like you have to clap back again.)
Got a thought, a tip, or a point to make? Hit me on Twitter at @jonscott9.