Woodbridge talks up Tomic
The 15-year-old is Australian tennis’ shining light in a gloomy period – so much so that he was today thrown up as a possible big name drawcard for the new ATP-WTA event in Brisbane from January 4-11.
Not a bad effort considering the field already boasts world No.3 Novak Djokovic and French Open winner Ana Ivanovic.
To boot, Australia’s Samantha Stosur and former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis were confirmed starters at the Brisbane International’s official launch today.
But organisers were licking their lips at the prospect of Tomic playing his first tour event in Brisbane.
“He’s just 15 years of age but believed to be one of the most outstanding prospects not just in Australian tennis but in world tennis,” tournament director Steve Ayles gushed.
Doubles legend Todd Woodbridge also talked Tomic up.
“He will be making a major, major breakthrough in four, five years’ time,” he said.
“He’s probably going to be looking at winning this tournament in four, five years’ time.”
But Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said there were no guarantees for Tomic.
“This is an ATP event and he would have to earn that [wildcard entry],” he said.
“It would be fantastic if Bernard could earn a wildcard, we look forward to him competing for that.”
Wood still described Tomic as a “champion of the future”.
Woodbridge had a gut feeling he would see Tomic in action in the new Brisbane event.
The Brisbane International – which will offer more than AUD$1 million in prizemoney – will open the new AUD$82 million Queensland Tennis Centre.
The event merges the men’s Adelaide International and the Gold Coast’s Australian Women’s Hardcourts.
“I think one of the most exciting things that goes with this new tournament is that one thinks Bernard Tomic will get his chance to compete at his first ATP tournament,” Woodbridge said.
“He is the future of the game in this country, along with the fact that he is going to drag other kids through.”
Woodbridge didn’t think too much expectation was being placed on the youngest Australian Open boys’ title winner and Davis Cup hitting partner.
“He’s handled pressure pretty well so far. He’s won the Australian juniors, his ranking is going up at the right rate,” he said.
“I think he is on a nice path. It hasn’t been an ascent to the top then a fall.
“And he has a bit of grunt and a bit of ego and self-belief and that is really important.”
If successful Tomic would contest a men’s field that also features Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and fellow Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
Meanwhile, Ayles also announced plans to broadcast the Brisbane International to national audiences on the Seven Network and televise the finals around the world.
Bernard Tomic is tipped to win the Brisbane International by 2012 – but he is no guarantee of contesting the inaugural event in January.