Bernard Tomic will have to produce a career-defining performance if he hopes to upset world no.1 and all-time great Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the 2014 Australian Open. Join us for live scores and commentary from 7.30pm AEDT.
Tomic could not have asked for a harder opening to his Australian Open campaign. In saying that, tonight’s match-up against Nadal presents an opportunity for him to truly showcase whether he has the game and temperament to become a great player.
The young Australian certainly has the talent to match the very best. His performance at the 2011 Wimbledon championships where he reached the quarter-finals proves this.
While talent will certainly win many matches, it is the never say die and ruthlessness of players like Nadal that plays the leading role in delivering grand slam titles.
Nadal is a gladiator on court and he will endeavor to move Tomic around the court with his extremely solid forehand and backhand.
Against Juan Martin Del Potro last week, Tomic was well beaten in just 53 minutes due to the Argentine’s ability to bully the Australian with his very strong forehand.
If Tomic finds himself on the defensive in a lot of tonight’s rallies, Nadal will control tonight’s contest and secure a straight sets victory.
As invincible as Nadal did seem at times last season, the Spaniard still suffered some surprise defeats that should catch Tomic’s eye.
At last year’s Wimbledon championships, Nadal suffered a straight sets opening round defeat to Steve Darcis in one of the biggest upsets in grand slam history.
In 2012, Nadal also lost in five sets to Lukas Rosol in the second round of the Wimbledon championships.
Although both of these defeats were on grass, Tomic would be wise to replicate the aggressive style that Rosol in particular implemented against Nadal at Wimbledon.
Tomic has the weapons to cause Nadal trouble. His forehand when on song is a terrific weapon that has the potential to pin Nadal deep inside the baseline.
Indeed in 2011, Tomic troubled Nadal significantly in his straight sets defeat against the Spaniard at the Australian Open.
In the second set in particular, Tomic managed to break Nadal’s serve thanks largely to his ability to hit the ball with interest.
Anything short that is offered up by Nadal tonight must be punished by Tomic. If there is a chance to go on the front foot in a rally, the Australian has to take it.
If Tomic can take his chances and play with controlled aggression, then perhaps he can do what Rosol and Darcis did before him and maybe cause the upset.
Anything less than a complete performance from Tomic though will see Nadal emerge victorious.
Nadal in straight sets.