Bernard now Australia’s new No.1 man
Triple Wimbledon champions Boris Becker and John Newcombe hailed Bernard Tomic’s breakthrough performance as the teenager seized the mantle of Australia’s top men’s player from Lleyton Hewitt.
The youngest player in the field completed the changing of the guard with a stunning 6-1 6-4 7-5 victory over ailing world No.5 Robin Soderling at the All England Club on Saturday.
It made him the first 18-year-old male to reach the last 16 at the famed south-west London venue in 21 years.
Tomic reached the third round of the Australian Open in January but this was another step up in class as he belted a two-time French Open finalist.
Consider these numbers.
Tomic won 15 straight points, collected the opening set in just 17 minutes and pulled off the win in under two hours.
He produced some spell-binding tennis at times against a sick Soderling, using his serve and wicked slice to skewer the big Scandinavian in front of a captivated crowd.
Even Becker, who captured his first Wimbledon crown as a 17-year-old in 1985, raved about the performance.
“Very impressed,” Becker said.
“First time I have seen him play live. I tell you, a star in the making.
“I really liked the way he played, his composure.
“Yeah, Soderling was not at his best but you have to hand it to Tomic. I expect a lot more from him.”
Newcombe relished witnessing a fellow Australian make such a big step forward on the 40th anniversary of his last Wimbledon title.
“I thought it was a very mature and polished performance,” he said.
“I think you have to say that he is on his way now.”
The result is set to do wonders for Tomic’s ranking, elevating him from 158 to inside the top 100.
There will be audible sighs of relief coming out of Tennis Australia that their golden, and sometimes troublesome, child has delivered ahead of schedule.
With Hewitt fading away, Australian tennis has made a huge effort to pull Tomic firmly to its bosom.
It has provided him with wildcards for grand slams when, based solely on his rankings, he might not have been the most deserving.
The Gold Coast teenager has also been welcomed into the Davis Cup fold.
Although father John Tomic remains his coach, he has been aided this week by guidance from two-time Wimbledon finalist and Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter.
Not to mention enjoying the wisdom of Davis Cup coach Tony Roche.
“John (Tomic) and Pat Rafter seem to be getting on really well,” Newcombe said.
“You can not go any further then have your son involved with Pat Rafter and Tony Roche. That is the way to go for the future.”
As for concerns about his youth, Rafter said pre-match: “Lleyton did a good job of it, this kid can do it too.”
Tomic’s next challenge is a winnable fourth-round clash with Belgian world No.42 Xavier Malisse.
“I’d love to win another round,” said Tomic.
“The next few days I’m going to have to prepare mentally for it and not just be backing off in the fourth round.
“I think I can win.
“I’ve got to go out there and believe like I did today.”
Malisse has only dropped one set in the opening three rounds and rolled 11th seed Jurgen Melzer in straight sets on Saturday.
Tomic and Malisse have played once before with the Belgian winning in three sets last year at Queen’s.
If Tomic can get past the Belgian, he faces a likely quarter-final against occasional hitting partner and world No.2 Novak Djokovic.