Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tomic focussed on Federer challenge

Updated January 21, 2012 20:00:52

John Tomic once famously claimed his prodigiously talented son could win "10 to 15 grand slams".

On Sunday night, Bernard Tomic will play somebody who already has - but the 19-year-old refuses to believe he cannot pull off a tennis miracle at Melbourne Park.

"I've got to go out there feeling good and have a go and try to win," Tomic said ahead of his Australian Open fourth-round blockbuster with Roger Federer.

Tomic's showdown with the 16-times major winner looms as the most anticipated clash between an Australian teenager and legend of the game at Melbourne Park since Mark Philippoussis rocked Rod Laver Arena in 1996.

Tomic admits emulating Philippoussis's earth-moving Open win over Pete Sampras 16 years ago to end Federer's extraordinary record streak of 30 consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances is the greatest challenge of his burgeoning career.

But after six victories over top-20 rivals in the past two weeks, Tomic is dreaming big.

"Playing Roger is an experience that I'll always remember," the world number 38 said.

"Hopefully I can play well and relax and have fun. I just have to go out there and focus and I think I can have a good tennis match and, who knows, maybe win.

"(My) confidence now, last three weeks, has been better than it's probably ever been."

Federer last failed to reach the final eight at a slam at the 2004 French Open and even Tomic conceded the Swiss freak's numbers would never be matched.

"Yeah, 16 grand slams - that's the only thing that comes to mind. It's a scary number," he said.

"What he's achieved is unbelievable. I think nobody in tennis will ever achieve that."

Federer outclassed Tomic in four sets in their only previous meeting, in a grasscourt Davis Cup tie at Royal Sydney four months ago.

"Having played him before, I think I have an intense sense of what he can do and where he can hurt me, where he can't," Tomic said.

"It's a tough thing to beat Roger and to even think about beating him.

"I'm happy to know I got a set off him last time and that's confidence there.

"I think I can get the balls down to where Roger probably can't use his backhand enough. He has one of the best forehands in the world.

"I think I play really smart. Hopefully my smartness can make me win a set or two, maybe even win. I can't guarantee. It's Roger."

Acutely aware that Federer, the peerless front-runner, is 186-2 after winning the first set, Tomic said he would "pray to God" and hope for a flying start.

"If I get up and maybe win the first set, it's a very, very important key to this match," Tomic said.

"I have to go out there and believe in myself. I've got the crowd on my side and that's all I can do."

When Tomic won the US Open junior title in 2009, his father and coach urged Tennis Australia to break the bank to ensure his son parlayed his immense talent into grand slam riches.

Tomic is unsure whether he is quite ready to win his first next Sunday night, but is vowing to give it a shake.

"To win a grand slam now you've got to beat three, four players in the draw that are the best tennis players in the world," he said when asked if it was possible for a young gun to upstage the established superstars at Melbourne Park.

"It's not like 10 years ago where you had to beat one or two good ones. Now everyone can play and everyone in the top 50, 100 can play tennis.

"If you win seven matches in a row and have the confidence, I think it's possible but very, very difficult at this age 19, 20, 21.

"I think we go to battle and see. Maybe one of us can do it."


Tags: tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted January 21, 2012 20:00:52

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