Tomic Arrives

Bernard Tomic loves a big occasion. Despite sitting at #158 before Wimbledon began he’s now reached the fourth round after knocking out world number five Robin Soderling.

Tomic forehand

Soderling may well have been unwell during the match but Tomic must be given credit for handling his win like a top 10 player, brushing the Swede aside in a first set lasting just 17 minutes before seeing it out in straight sets.

BBC commentary constantly referred to Tomic’s view that his ultimate strength is finding his opponent’s weakness. That is a philosophy which will win him many matches in the future and, based solely on his third round victory, a potential major.

What’s surprising is how his record before his visit to south west London this year has been so disappointing compared to his achievements elsewhere.

The 18-year-old qualifier has made the third round of the Australian Open this year and has been to the second round of his home major the two years previous to that.

Ace of Baseline has been following Tomic since the early days of the blog’s creation (he’s the second one along on the top-right banner) and his record on the ATP World Tour has been nothing special.

His two career title successes have come on the ATP Challenger Tour and his last triumph at that level came in February last year whilst his other was 12 months before that with both coming in Australia.

Along with those wins Down Under he took the junior Aussie Open crown in 2008 aged just 15.

Perhaps age is the key. He is only 18, still eligible for the juniors and more ATP World Tour events instead of Challenger tournaments in the future will see his progress quicken.

His coolness on the show court against Soderling and his ability to come back from two sets down versus Igor Andreev in round two are good traits. He has the mentality to succeed and seems to lap up a pressurised situation.

His next match will be against Xavier Malisse and his chances of reaching the last eight are seemingly decent against the 30-year-old Belgian. We’ll learn a lot more from Tomic in that match now he’s set to be watched by more and more eyes.

After progressing further than Aussie legend and their last man to win a Slam Lleyton Hewitt, Tomic will become the new number one player from the country.

He’s actually a German-born Aussie of Croatian and Bosnian descent (if that’s not too hard to grasp) so there will probably be several countries trying to convert the flag next to his name.

History regarding his nationality has landed him in hot water in the past with his dad – who’s also his coach – threatening to force Tomic to play for Croatia, whilst an incident with Hewitt a while ago means he’s by no means a straightforward guy to predict.

Taking in mind his successful record in the southern hemisphere and the support he’ll receive from The Fanatics in the future, if he stays to his Gold Coast roots then Australia’s heir to Hewitt could be just, if not more, of a success.

The Fanatics

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Oh Clay!

The end of the Sony Ericsson Open signals the beginning of the clay court season, which could either be disastrous or very productive for tennis players trying to make their name.

Only a select few number of players find the slower surface their specialist area – Rafael Nadal, Robin Soderling, Francesca Schiavone, Svetlana Kutznetsova and Sam Stosur are just some of the exclusive clay club.

Therefore the results could be sporadic. Some younger players will find themselves winning matches against normally sound professionals inside the top 20 but it also works both ways as they won’t enjoy the clay either.

The first WTA clay tournaments take place tomorrow at Charleston, USA in the Family Circle Cup and the Andalucia Tennis Experience in Marbella, Spain. Houston is hosting the US Men’s Clay Court Championship whilst Casablanca features the other ATP 250.

These types of events only benefit younger players as they split the world’s best into two tournaments rather than a larger round of 96, so seeds can range from top 10 players to just inside the top 50.

The next major ATP tournament featuring the big names is the Monte Carlo Masters on April 10th with other highlights including the Madrid Open, Rome’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia and, of course, the French Open at Roland Garros.

The second Grand Slam of the year seems to be getting more and more unpredictable to judge. Since Justine Henin’s first retirement, there have been a host of names in the women’s final of clay’s showpiece tournament.

If the men avoid Rafael Nadal over the next two months they could prosper. It will also be interesting to see if Novak Djokovic can continue his fine run of form through to the grass court season as well.

Seeds could fall, form could alter and new faces could become household names. In short, expect the unexpected.

Rafael Nadal

The King of Clay – Rafael Nadal

The main draws for the WTA premier events in Charleston and Marbella as well as the ATP 250’s in Houston and Casablanca are available to see in full.

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