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2018 Australian Open
Men's Singles qualifying, 1st Round
Show Court 3, Melbourne Park
Bernard Tomic vs Vincent Millot
In what might be the most high profile qualifying match in Australian Open history, one-time rising star Bernard Tomic will take on obscure Frenchman Vincent Millot in a bid to make his tenth consecutive main draw appearance. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from around 4:30pm (AEDT).
It’s been a heavy fall for Tomic since entering this grand slam in 2016 as the 16th seed, the 25-year-old plagued by controversy after controversy as his career took a nosedive.
Straight-sets exits at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open were bad enough, but when you add the public outcry over his famous ‘bored’ press conference which cost him both $15,000 and the respect of many Australian tennis fans, 2017 was a year best forgotten for the temperamental talent.
Even before last year’s misery, Tomic has frustrated for years with his inability to follow on from a bright juniors career and sizzling first few years on the circuit, with his 2011 quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon still his best ever result at a major.
But while Tennis Australia had managed to overlook Tomic’s many altercations over the years, the buck has finally stopped, with the body’s refusal to award him a wildcard for the Australian Open meaning he would have to go through three sudden-death matches to feature at Melbourne Park.
Even that looked unlikely for a while, with speculation that he would continue his downward trend by refusing to do so, but now that he has accepted, you feel he is the most talented player – if not the most determined – in the group.
By contrast, his first-round opponent, 31-year-old Vincent Millot, is about as far off centre stage as you could get.
He’s played just 22 ATP World Tour matches in his career, winning only five, and while he’s managed two Challenger titles, the last was back in July 2015.
Nevertheless, a ranking of 192 – he hasn’t dropped outside the top 200 since that last Challenger triumph – proves he’s no easy beat and while Tomic was too good in their only career match to date, there has been plenty of water under the bridge since then.
This match really hinges on Tomic’s motivation for making the main draw at the Australian Open. If he’s determined to take the chance and will stop at nothing to get there, like most qualifiers, he’s all but a shoe-in.
However, if he’s still feeling unmotivated- and with Tomic this “if” is a constant presence nowadays- then Millot is a chance at a major upset.
Tomic to win in straight sets.
If Tomic can make it through a tough qualifying period and make it to the main draw, don’t count him out of making an impact. His 17-9 record at Melbourne Park, including three fourth-round and third-round appearances apiece, make it comfortably his favourite Grand Slam.
Can the former world No. 17 take the first step towards doing that and get 2018 off to a bright start? Or will the unknown Frenchman Millot spoil the prodigal son’s return?
Tune into The Roar‘s live coverage of this first round of qualifying from around 4:30pm (AEDT) or at the completion of Taylor Fritz versus Sam Groth and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.