Bernard Tomic confessed to deliberately playing dead while drawing inspiration from Lleyton Hewitt to reach the Australian Open second round with a mighty comeback win.
The boom teenager defied all odds, predictions and soaring mercury to rally from two sets down to oust Spanish ironman and 2009 semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-7 (7-3), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in four hours and 11 minutes.
Tomic's reward for winning his longest-ever match is a clash on Wednesday with American Sam Querrey - and a possible fourth-round showdown with 16-times grand slam champion Roger Federer.
The 19-year-old Wimbledon quarter-finalist looked down and out after falling behind two sets to love.
But backing his vastly-improved fitness, Tomic admitted to foxing his seasoned opponent early in the third set.
"I had a feeling he knew I was going to go away. I eased off and seemed (like) I didn't care," Tomic said.
"He thought he was going to win that third set and when the right time came, I broke him.
"I knew if I lifted my game early, he would have lifted as well and he wouldn't have let go.
"I pretended a little bit in the first few games in that third set to not be there as mentally, but in a way to still be there."
Verdasco, who cried ill after the match, said it was easy for Tomic to claim such tactics in victory.
But nothing could detract from Tomic's day in the sun as he carried the hopes of a nation as Australian number one at Melbourne Park for the first time.
"It's hard, but I'm learning to deal with it. I'm having fun," he said.
"Today wasn't fun. It was torture.
"I don't know how I won but I'm the happiest person alive."
Darren Cahill, Verdasco's former coach and ex-mentor of Hewitt and Andre Agassi, summed up the prevailing mood after Tomic silenced his doubters.
"Stunning effort from Bernie. Gave him no chance after dropping a tough 1st set, let alone going down 2 sets. Well done young fella!" Cahill tweeted.
As a wide-eyed, ambitious 12-year-old, Tomic famously declared he wanted the serve of Goran Ivanisevic, the mind of Pete Sampras, the groundstrokes of Federer and the heart of Hewitt.
On Monday, after displaying Hewitt's fighting qualities, the world number 38 also admitted to drawing on his younger days growing up in Queensland watching Australia's former world number one snatching so many victories from the jaws of defeat.
"(He) did the impossible, turned around a match in this situation," Tomic said.
"You learn from a player that's been number one in the world. Any player that has been number one in the world, you can pick up the best info from them.
"Lleyton never gives up. That's one of the reasons he got to number one.
"I had it in me today. I played a good tennis match and believed in myself as much as I could. That got me through it."
Tomic had requested a day-time encounter for his meeting with "one of the fittest players in the world", believing a night match in heavier conditions would play into the hands of the claycourt specialist.
But as the temperate rose to the mid-30s, Tomic began to regret his decision.
"Silly me," he said.
"I didn't know that the heat was going to be like this.
"It's the first day in the last few months where it's actually been this hot. I chose the wrong time to play. But lucky I won.
"Had I not done that fitness the last two, three months, there's no way mentally you can be out there in that heat and turn around in a match like that and win.
"It was all fitness, the way I've been preparing the last few months. It's all paid off."
AAPTags: sport, australian-open, tennis, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted January 16, 2012 16:56:41