The last time the tennis world saw Australia’s next hopeful Bernard Tomic on a big stage, it was not a pretty sight. His game was nowhere to be found against a red-hot Andy Roddick on Arthur Ashe Stadium and he was later accused of tanking during the 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss.
Despite his past problems, Tomic has the talent to become Australia’s next big tennis star, but he is still in the process of maturing.
As his home Grand Slam starts on Monday, can we expect the real Tomic to show up?
If this week is any indication, Tomic could not look better coming into the year’s first major. As of Friday morning, Tomic has reached his first ATP Tour final at the Apia International Sydney 250 event and will face Kevin Anderson. So far he's recorded seven match wins in the first two weeks of the season, after going 3-0 at the Hopman Cup last week.
He showed true fight in his quarterfinal match against defending Sydney champion Jarkko Nieminen in Sydney, coming back from a set down. Though it was not pretty, Tomic didn’t revert to his 2012 “tanking” self and is now playing in the final. That’s good for Tomic's confidence and motivation going into the Australian Open.
Unfortunately for the 20-year-old, Tomic has an unlucky draw, with the possibility of meeting 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the third round. Other than the 2011 Wimbledon tournament—where he defeated No. 5 seed Robin Soderling to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal—the Australian Open has been Tomic’s best Slam.
He won his first Grand Slam match back in 2009 at the age of 16 defeating Potito Starace. And last year he gave his best performance, coming back from two sets to love to defeat Fernando Verdasco (’09 semifinalist) and reach the second week before bowing out to Roger Federer.
Tomic has an explosive game that is suited for the plexicushion surface at the Australian Open. He started the year with a win over world No.1 Novak Djokovic, moving the Serb out of his comfort zone and painting the lines with winners.
Although that win happened at the Hopman Cup and didn’t count as an ATP match win, it should be encouraging for Tomic that he was able to open the court against one of the best defenders in the game.
Despite his shortcomings, Tomic has become more serious about his game and could break into the top 20 this season. His attitude will still be present, but Tomic will hopefully have it more under control.
With all of his ups and mostly downs from last season, it’s encouraging to see Tomic’s early success this year at home. He should make the first week of the Australian Open very entertaining.