Tomic goes down in thriller
Brave teenager Bernard Tomic has fallen just short of a stunning upset in a gruelling five-set Australian Open match against 14th seeded Croatian Marin Cilic.
Cilic prevailed 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 4-6 6-2 6-4 in a match which lasted almost four hours, ending after 2.10am (AEDT) on Thursday, after starting about 10.20am the previous night.
Tomic, 17, showed remarkable composure, guile and heart to push a player ranked 275 places higher, with the gulf in experience even greater.
For much of the match, it was the big-serving, 198cm Croatian – a winner of two ATP events last year – who seemed to feel the pressure more acutely.
Cilic struggled to come to terms with the varied pace of Tomic’s shots and he gave up both the first and the third sets with soft unforced forehand errors.
Tomic’s youth and inexperience showed out as Cilic raced through the second and fourth sets.
But he showed tremendous resolve to keep bouncing back and hold his nerve for much of a tense final set.
He held serve in a marathon fifth game, which lasted more than nine minutes.
And he had two break points at 4-3, which if he had clinched either would have given him the chance to serve for the match.
But, after missing that chance, he finally relinquished the crucial break in the next game, before Cilic served out the match.
While the defeat meant Tomic fell in the second round, the same stage he reached last year, his performance showed he has progressed enormously.
He was the youngest ever winner of the Australian Open boys’ title in 2008, then last year became the youngest winner of a main draw men’s match, when he downed Italian Potito Starace in the first round.
But the youngster’s gallant showing against Cilic signalled he will soon start turning his enormous junior potential into significant results on the men’s tour.