He's not going to be seeded and does not have much of a legacy to defend yet, but Bernard Tomic is one guy that most players probably don't want to see in their half of the draw at the 2012 Australian Open.
The Australian youngster stormed onto the ATP scene with a quarter-final showing at Wimbledon in 2011 and currently holds the distinction of being the youngest player in the ATP Top 100.
As expected, Tomic began his 2012 campaign with some success, with a semi-finals appearance at the Brisbane International and defeating top-10 player Tomas Berdych at the 2011 Kooyong Classic.
While Tomic has not won any tournaments this year, his performance is nevertheless telling. Specifically, it shows that he can make it deep into competitive draws and beat some of the best players in the world, a fact previously evidenced by his win over Robin Soderling at Wimbledon in 2011.
Tomic is certainly someone that most players will be concerned with at the 2012 Australian Open. The 19-year-old has convincingly shown that he can adjust to unruly conditions and maintain his composure to close out matches with the highest-caliber and most experienced players.
Both traits will serve him well in the Australian heat and with the competitive draw. Tomic is certainly ready to compete in Melbourne, and is hoping for a favorable draw.
While Tomic wants to avoid playing Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray early in the tournament, he will likely be competitive in matches with most other players. Barring any injuries or flukes, I expect Tomic to at least make it to the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
Whether he makes it any further will depend largely on the luck of his draw, and how the favorites fare. Regardless, expect Tomic to make a splash at the 2012 Australian Open, and probably also during the rest of the 2012 tennis season.
Australia needs its next John Newcombe, and while still early, Tomic could be it.