06TH Jan 2009

Verdasco predicts big things for Tomic

Bernard hits a backhand in his ATP debut. GETTY IMAGES

Bernard hits a backhand in his ATP debut. GETTY IMAGES

AAP

Rising hope Bernard Tomic suggested he could mix it with the big boys of world tennis but followed an Australian trend at the Brisbane International.

In what was always going to be a baptism of fire, Tomic started his senior ATP career in style by winning his serve and then breaking third-seeded Fernando Verdasco in front of a raucous home crowd at Pat Rafter Arena.

Three winners produced the break but the excitement didn’t last long for the 16-year-old Gold Coaster on Monday night.

The Spanish Davis Cup hero quickly bounced back and showed his class to take the first-round clash 6-4 6-2 in a little over an hour.

Despite winning just four of the last 16 games, wildcard Tomic wasn’t disgraced and suggested enough with some booming ground strokes he had the artillery to be worthy addition to the tour.

But he failed to measure up to the world No.16, whose slick win came after girlfriend Ana Ivanovic produced the same scoreline against Petra Kvitova but had a much tougher time of it on centre court.

Tomic seemed to struggle once Verdasco clinched the first set as he won just one of the next nine points as the Spaniard took an early break in the second.

But last year’s Australian Open boys champion showed he possessed some fight by saving break points in his next two service games to close to 2-3.

Despite the tenseness of the situation, the lean Tomic let out a laugh at the change when he caused a stir by changing his shirt, prompting a male spectator to yell out ‘What’s you number Bernie?’.

A well-pleased Tomic admitted he was stunned to be ahead 2-0 and he struggled to cope with the situation.

“The reason I got broken after that was because I thought `what’s happening? I’m 2-0 up’, I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

Tomic is now hopeful of playing the Australian Open.

His game was praised by Verdasco who rated him an almost complete player.

“I thought he played really good for a 16-year-old,” the Spaniard said. “I don’t think I played like this when I was 16.

“I think he can be a great talent.”

Brisbane International website

Latest Result

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