Bernard Tomic believes he has turned over a new leaf in 2013.
With the controversies of 2012 behind him, the re-instated Australian No.1 has started the new year in the best possible way – by winning matches. So far, his run stands at eight in a row – not bad for a player who racked up 10 first-round exits, including three to finish the season, in 2012.
It was after a 6-0 6-2 loss to Mikhail Youzhny at Basel in October that Tomic decided to call time on a season that had started so brightly – a semifinal appearance in Brisbane followed by a fourth-round showing in Melbourne – but finished under a cloud.
“I learnt so much,” said Tomic. “Ups and downs. I had my ups at the start in January. But then I had my downs. I'll learn from my downs. Lucky I learnt at my age, 20, not 25 and 28. I'm learning now. This is something really good.
“You can use this in your career. I'm happy I learnt everything and I can use it to get the best potential out of myself.”
After the Youzhny loss, Team Tomic decided it was time to recharge and look ahead to 2013, a decision that has already paid some impressive dividends.
Tomic’s run of form started in Perth at the Hopman Cup, where he accounted for Tommy Haas, Novak Djokovic and Andreas Seppi before his heroics in Sydney where he won his first ATP title. And with momentum building, the 20-year-old said that he’s feeling “unstoppable” and that he’ll be bringing that feeling, along with the Sydney trophy, to Melbourne.
“This is where you want to do the best. I want to do as best as I can for this tournament, so I'm going to be ready on Tuesday. I'm going to keep going and try to win as many matches as I can. Obviously I'm really confident. I haven't lost a match yet,” he said.
“I'm playing really good tennis, feeling physically really well. That's why I think I've been playing good out there.”
Now in Melbourne, Tomic realises that the level of optimism surrounding him has hit new heights. With his first title under his belt, expectations from both the fans and from within have increased.
But the Australian faces a tough assignment. Tomic’s fourth-round loss to Roger Federer in 2012 will be hard to top. You see, should Tomic win his opening two encounters, chances are that the man who holds 17 major titles will be waiting for him in the third round. That’s right, Federer.
“I would love to get in that position to play Roger in the third round,” Tomic said.
“He has to get there as well. You don't know what can happen. Tennis is a funny sport. So we'll see.”
Not that Tomic is getting ahead of himself. Far from it. First up, it’s Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.
Ranked No.72 in the world, 25-year-old Mayer spent much of 2012 on the Challenger tour but did make it to the third round of Roland Garros and the US Open. It’s enough for Tomic to know he’ll have to be on guard when the two meet on Tuesday.
“The first round is my goal, to beat this guy. I do struggle against some guys out there. I don't know how this guy can play,” he said.
“It's not easy playing the first round of a Grand Slam. Everyone is ready to go for the first slam, so you don't know what to expect.
“I've got to come out there and play the tennis I've been playing the last few weeks.”
It’s an important match for Tomic – there’s more than just a second-round berth at stake. A win will give him a chance to repay some fans for their ongoing support, and show others that his actions are backing up the statements he has made about working on the mental side of his game.
“It's such a great privilege playing in Australia – the fans support you,” he said.
“This is where I play my best tennis. I'm going to use it here, and hopefully the crowd can get behind me a lot and support me throughout my matches.
“That's when I'll play better and better.”