VIDEO: Bernard’s dream come true
Dream believer Bernard Tomic insists he can upstage history-chasing top seed Rafael Nadal in their third-round Australian Open blockbuster on Saturday night.
No Australian man in almost a decade has conquered a world No.1, but Tomic believes anything is possible after upsetting Spanish 31st seed Feliciano Lopez 7-6(4) 7-6(3) 6-3 on Thursday to reach the last 32 of a grand slam event for the first time.
“I’m hitting the ball great, my confidence is up there, especially after two matches, I played a left-hander before I played him, that’s always good,” Tomic said.
“There’s not much weaknesses [in his game but] I don’t think he’ll like my game.
“He’ll like the players that give him a lot of time, a lot of rally shots. The way I mix it up, he’s not going to like.”
Not since Mark Philippoussis shot down Andre Agassi in the fourth round at Wimbledon en route to the 2003 final at the All England Club has an Australian brought down the men’s world No.1.
But while Philippoussis was already a grand slam finalist and accomplished grasscourt exponent, Tomic will enter his clash with Nadal as an 18-year-old wildcard ranked 198 places behind the reigning French Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion.
Nadal has won his past 23 grand slam matches and is bidding to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles simultaneously.
Tomic, though, is undeterred and earnestly believes he can stop the Spanish juggernaut.
“Oh, I believe so,” Tomic said.
“I mean, it’s an opportunity that I get. He’s the world No.1. I’ll just have a go.
“When you step out against a player like that, you don’t have nothing to lose.
“But I’m not going to go and win this match if I go out there and play not to lose. I’ve got to play to win.”
Nadal will enter the marquee match-up a raging favourite but, carrying all the pressure, Nadal is nevertheless on guard.
“He’s very young, he’s playing well I think, he has a very very good future … hopefully not for the next round,” Nadal said after trouncing American qualifier Ryan Sweeting 6-2 6-1 6-1 in his second-round encounter.
Nadal said a prime-time showdown with Tomic on Rod Laver Arena would be a nice occasion and recalled his days as a teenager himself taking on dual grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt in Melbourne.
“I remember when I was here when I was 16, 17, I played against Lleyton (twice and lost both times). If you win, it’s unbelievable. If not, it’s OK,” he said.
Even if he loses against Nadal, Tomic is guaranteed a rankings rise of about 20 spots from his current career-high place just inside the world’s top 200.
The teenager’s landmark win over Lopez – a two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist and Queen’s Club victor over Nadal last year – more than made up for fellow Australian Alicia Molik’s 6-4 6-1 second-round loss to women’s 13th seed Nadia Petrova.