Well, it’s happened again. For the second year in a row, Bernard Tomic’s Australian Open campaign has ended at the hands of Roger Federer. If you include the 2011 third round loss to Rafael Nadal, it’s the third year in a row he’s lost to a top three player.
Last year, Tomic was no match for the great Swiss Maestro, winning just eight games. This year though, he was able to win eleven.
This match shows just how hard Tomic needs to train if he wants to crack the ATP’s Top 20 for the first time in his career. Though he lost one round earlier than last year, his ranking shouldn’t suffer any major damage and he should remain in the ATP’s Top 50 for the time being.
Tomic’s situation is completely the opposite to that of Samantha Stosur’s. Whereas our top female player has underperformed at her national championships, Tomic on the other hands relishes playing in front his home crowd.
His run to the fourth round last year showed just how capable he is of performing under the weight of expectation. Also, Tomic has had a more solid preparation for the Australian Open for the last two years as opposed to Stosur’s, whose home struggles are well documented.
Last year, Tomic reached the semi-finals of the Brisbane International and gave Andy Murray a run for his money before the Brit’s experience told. But Tomic was able to maintain that form and win the Kooyong Classic, beating Tomas Berdych and Mardy Fish along the way.
Then there was the magical run to the Round of 16 in Melbourne, coming from two sets to love down against Fernando Verdasco in the first round and subsequently enduring similar struggles against Sam Querrey and Aleksandr Dolgopolov before pulling through.
In the fourth round, he was dealt a harsh lesson by Roger Federer, and the defeat was a massive reality check from which the young Australian never recovered from. Subsequently, his results deteriorated for the remainder of the year and his ranking dropped from a career high of World No. 27 to No. 52.
But this year we have seen an improved Tomic in all areas of his game.
At the Hopman Cup, he won all three of his rubbers including a famous victory over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Though Australia did not make the final, Tomic let his tennis do the talking and hit back at the critics who lashed out at him for poor on-court results and brushes with the law. We must remember that Tomic is still only 20 and even Roger Federer also struggled with poor attitude and poor results at that age.
Since then, Federer has gone on and broken so many records. Can Bernard Tomic follow down the footsteps of his childhood idol? Only time will tell.
Anyway, back to the topic of Tomic’s relatively successful summer. Tomic entered the Sydney International unseeded and with little expectation but after the sudden pre-tournament withdrawals of French powerhouses Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, as well as the second round exit of American top seed John Isner, Tomic was suddenly considered a favourite.
He continued his good form in Sydney, beating established players such as Florian Mayer, Andreas Seppi and Kevin Anderson in the final to win his first ATP World Tour title. It was the perfect way for him to hit back at the critics who branded him as “Tomic the Tank Engine” after his poor finish to 2012.
And so onto the Australian Open. He was very impressive in dispatching Leonardo Mayer in the first round, only giving up eight games for his biggest match win at a Grand Slam tournament (in terms of games conceded). Then came Daniel Brands, who took the first set off Tomic before the Australian beefed up the pressure in the next three sets and took the match in four.
Finally, there was the defeat to Roger Federer, who for the second year in a row was too good for Tomic. It may have been an abrupt ending to Tomic’s successful Australian summer but let’s just hope he can carry on this momentum for the rest of the year.
And with little rankings points to defend for the rest of this year, who knows, maybe he can crack the Top 20.