Bernard to take on the men
He just turned 16, but Australian tennis wonderboy Bernard Tomic believes it is time to launch a full-scale assault on the men’s tour.
The reigning Australian Open junior champion is eligible to spend another two years bolstering his already impressive age record, if he wants to.
But, after mixing junior and senior events in roughly equal measure in 2008, the talented Gold Coast teenager would prefer to speed up his development by committing fully to the men’s circuit next year.
“I’ve started this year to play more and more [open] Futures and Challengers, but then again I’ve played also juniors,” German-born Tomic said.
“I think it’s time to put juniors away next year hopefully and just focus on Challenger level and Futures and getting my ranking up to where I want it to be.”
Tomic is the junior world No.3, with the two players ranked above him both about 18 months older.
In the senior rankings, he is 772.
While he hopes to steadily cut that number, he needs to rely on the generosity of officials if he is to play in ATP events or senior grand slams.
His chief aims for the coming summer are to make his ATP debut at the Brisbane International, starting January 4, and then play in the Australian Open later that month.
He will need wildcards for both, a prospect that remains uncertain, particularly given Tennis Australia’s recent emphasis on awarding wildcards on a merit basis, with Tomic only the 26th-ranked Australian man.
While the teenager acknowledged the value of earning, rather than being handed, such opportunities, he said given the long road ahead of working his way through the rankings he would appreciate any help.
“It’s going to take a while to get in there [via rankings], so any opportunity’s good to take, so I’m just going to wait and see whether they give it to me or not, I’ll perform at my best and see how it goes,” he said.
To enhance his chances, he will enter the Australian Open wildcard play-off, starting December 19.
He was granted a wildcard into the qualifying tournament for the 2008 Australian Open, winning the opening round before bowing out in his following match.
While that meant he missed out on main draw entry, he credited his tight qualifying victory over Taiwan’s Yeu-Tzuoo Wang, a player seven years his senior and vastly more experienced, with providing the confidence to help him win the junior crown.
It has also fuelled his belief about what he can achieve at the top level.
“Definitely that qualifying win boosts a lot of confidence especially coming into the summer,” Tomic said.
“This will be the first ATP tour event if I play in Brisbane.
“If I get the chance to play it will be really good experience for me and a good thing in my career that I can work on in future.”