As an American, I’ve heard my fair share of criticism for American men’s tennis. While we still have our reliable Roddick and a few that have rose to the challenge in the top 20, the future is anything but clear.
Seems like the same goes for Australia. Lleyton Hewitt has been a permanent fixture and synonymous with Australian men’s tennis. While there’s a young bunch of seasoned pros in the makeup of Tennis Australia, they still seem to be struggling to find their future.
Enter Bernard Tomic.
While Tomic was originally joined by a good group of Australians in the main draw (Hewitt, Peter Luczak and Matthew Ebden, for example), he’s the only one left standing in the second round.
So it’s expected that Tomic has the weight of his country on his shoulders as he walks onto Hisense Arena court to face Feliciano Lopez, ranked 31 in the world and 11 years older. They’ve never played each other before so the outcome is a shot in the dark, especially for Lopez.
Those on Tour know little about Tomic. Lopez’s compatriot, Tommy Robredo, said, “If Lopez has a good game he can beat Tomic, but Tomic is a guy that you never know. You see him playing here in Australia and then you won’t see him again until the next Australian Open again, because during the year he is not playing matches on the ATP tour. So you don’t really know what to expect from him, but obviously he is a great young player. For sure he is going to have the crowd behind him and he can be a tough opponent for Lopez.”
Gael Monfils’ coach, and Hewitt’s former coach, Roger Rasheed, doubts the ATP No.199 has the power and ability to make the top 20.
“Yes, he is going to be in the top 100. Some people say he’s top 20. I can’t see it. It doesn’t ring a bell in my mind. Top 30? Maybe. He’s one of those enigmas at the moment,” Rasheed said.
Upon watching him play, Tomic clearly has the weapons to defeat an inconsistent Lopez. Whether or not he’ll rise to the challenge remains to be seen.
But there’s a whole country hoping he does so.
(Photo: Getty Images)