23RD Jan 2009

Tomic’s Grand Slam experience priceless

Bernard reaches for a ball against Gilles Muller. GETTY IMAGES

Bernard reaches for a ball against Gilles Muller. GETTY IMAGES


Bigger pay days seemed assured for Bernard Tomic following the teenage sensation’s gallant second-round exit from the Australian Open.

Gilles Muller, a seasoned pro boasting grand slam wins over world No.1s Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick, thundered down 27 aces to outgun the 16-year-old 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night.

Already locked into lucrative contracts with Nike, Garnier and Nokia, Tomic can nevertheless expect to be inundated with sponsorship offers after his history-making feat at Melbourne Park, where he became the youngest player to win a men’s main-draw singles match.

Tomic can also take heart from the fact that the only three players to have won a grand slam match at a younger age – Americans Michael Chang, Jimmy Arias and Aaron Krickstein – all cracked the world’s top 10.

Tomic’s first-up victory over Italy’s world No.73 Potito Starace earned him a cool USD$31,000 (AUD$46,700) – the biggest cheque of his career – but the Gold Coaster insists he can’t put a price on his maiden grand slam experience.

“Definitely can’t ask for anything better,” Tomic said.

“What more is there? To play in my first grand slam and to win a round was my dream.

“To have a shot in the second round, to be close to this player, it was a good feeling for me.

“But I couldn’t do anything in the second, third set. He was playing too good for me. He played unbelievable.

“I was lucky to get that first set. He didn’t start serving well. Once that started happening, it was too hard for me.

“But I played well. I was happy with this tournament. I couldn’t be any happier to get through that first round.

“It gave me a lot of confidence.”

While there was pre-match debate over whether or not he should have been exposed to the pressure of playing on centre court, there were certainly no complaints from Tomic himself.

“It was a great opportunity to play in front of the crowd in the biggest arena here,” the 2008 Open junior champion said. “I was thankful for that. The crowd were giving me motivation.”

Tomic’s Open campaign is not completely over yet.

The youngster will partner fellow 16-year-old Queenslander Monica Wejnert in the mixed doubles, then take a well-earned rest before playing in a Challenger tournament next month in Hobart.

Currently ranked 768th, Tomic’s season goals are modest.

“Just keep on improving and improving my ranking,” he said.

“I’ve done that here a little bit, but hopefully I can step it up in the next few tournaments when I play.”

Latest Result

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