Tomic realises anything is possible
Originally published on: 16/01/12 08:47
For a teenager who has been criticised for both fitness and attitude in the past, Bernard Tomic well and truly showed his steel on the opening day of the Australian Open.
The 19-year-old Queenslander looked odds on for defeat against Fernando Verdasco when he threw away three break points before losing the tiebreak to go two sets down, but he knuckled down to secure an incredible fighting victory over the 22nd seed in four hours and 11 minutes.
“If it was someone else, I think they would have thrown in the towel,” declared the 6’5” youngster after the epic encounter on Rod Laver Arena.
“I don’t know how I found the energy today. I knew I could have beaten him. I knew I had so many chances to win the first and second. I think that’s one of the reasons that made me push hard to win that third. After the third, I got the confidence.”
Stuttgart-born Tomic has rarely been found wanting in the self-assurance department, but the additional time he has put into improving his fitness over the last few months is now paying dividends.
Even in the immediate aftermath of beating Mardy Fish, Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych in three-set matches at the Kooyong Classic exhibition last week, Tomic headed straight for the treadmill for 20 minutes or more – a sign that he has become acutely aware of the need to add a solid backbone to his eclectic court craft.
“It’s all about getting fit. It’s about being able to push yourself when it’s impossible to win,” acknowledged Tomic. “And you know, had I not done that fitness the last two, three months, you know, there’s no way mentally you can be out there in that heat and turn around in a match like that and win. I think it was all fitness, the way I’ve been preparing the last few months. It’s all paid off.”
The home hope thrilled crowds at Melbourne Park last year when he progressed to the third round for a bout with world No.1 Rafael Nadal, and Tomic has a great chance to reach the same stage this year with big-serving American Sam Querrey up next.
“It’s a good match. He’s not a left-hander (like Verdasco) so it’s a bit easier that way,” considered Tomic. “It’s tough, you know, when Fernando gets that ball to my backhand. It’s almost impossible to out-rally him. Different opponent now. I’m going to think about whether I play him night or day.”
A night match may offer him a respite from the heat, but the now-fit Tomic may even consider that to his advantage given that he was able to deal with the humidity much better than Verdasco.
“It was a lot of heat,” bemoaned the Spaniard. “I been in Perth and Auckland and not even one day was this hot.
“It was tough just to come here two days ago and just go on court and play with this high temperature.”
While the Madrid native flagged, Tomic matured.
He has recovered from two sets down before, notably against Igor Andreev at Wimbledon last year, but this win will be a truly valuable lesson for the rising teen going forward.
“You know, anything’s possible if you keep trying,” he said simply. And you know, in this young man’s case, perhaps it is.