19TH Jan 2009

Brilliant Tomic wins first round

Bernard celebrates his first round win at the Australian Open. GETTY IMAGES

Bernard celebrates his first round win at the Australian Open. GETTY IMAGES

By Matt Trollope

Bernard Tomic has produced a stunning performance on Margaret Court Arena to defeat world No. 73 Potito Starace in four sets.

Sixteen-year-old Tomic showed remarkable poise in his first Australian Open main draw appearance, holding his nerve in a tense fourth set to claim a 7-6(5) 1-6 7-6(5) 7-6(6) victory.

Tomic began strongly, breaking his Italian opponent early in the first set. Despite relinquishing this advantage, he held tough in the ensuing tie-break to clinch the opening set, revving up the packed crowd.

However, Starace came out on fire in the second set, putting his young opponent in his place by moving out to a 3-0 lead. Games went on serve until Starace scored another break late in the set, going on to win it 6-1.

The third set appeared to be mirroring the second when the Italian broke early to go ahead 3-1. But Tomic steadied, with games going on serve until he gained an important break to tie scores at 4-4.

From here, games went on serve until the tie-break, which Tomic snatched seven points to five.

Leading two sets to one, Tomic appeared to relax slightly, and Starace pounced to lead 4-1. It was the wake-up call the Australian needed – he broke back shortly after.

With games again going on serve, another tie-break was needed to separate the two players. And what a tie-break it was.

Tomic set the pace, gaining a mini-break to lead four points to two. Starace answered by reeling off four straight points and holding two opportunities to take the match into a fifth set.

Showing composure beyond his years, Tomic levelled at 6-6 before threading the needle with a backhand pass up the line off a well-struck sliced approach by Starace.

He then bravely hit out on match point, winning the point with another crisp backhand up the line to record a famous victory.

Quick facts

Tomic struck 61 winners during the match

He also made 61 unforced errors

Starace recorded 13 aces to Tomic’s 10

The Italian was hurt by his double fault count, hitting seven to Tomic’s one

Latest Result

Italian Open, R64
Benoit Paire DEFEATED Bernard Tomic 2-1 (RET) see previous results