Tomic’s Star Keeps Rising

Australian Open 2012
By Hiland Doolittle, January 18th, 2012

In a day of tense and competitive matches, Bernard Tomic thrilled a packed house at Rod Laver Arena by ending American Sam Querrey’s comeback bid. After sustaining injuries in 2011, the American is seeking to return to top 20 form but is now mired in the 95th spot.

Bernard Tomic making good progress in Australian Open 2012

Long recognized as a feisty competition with a big serve and go-for-broke groundstrokes, Querrey started fast on Day 3. His big first serve dominated as he won 15 of 19 first service points. Bernard Tomic adjusted to the pace and managed to turn the tables on Querrey by using the American’s pace to strike piercing forehands and backhand drives.

The packed house was very vocal and appeared to taunt Querrey at times. Tomic has now sent two of the game’s power servers packing. He knocked out Verdasco in five sets in round 1 and eliminated Querrey in a hard fought 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3 four set effort.

Tomic showed signs of a great future beginning in 2008 when he won the Junior Australian Open and then again in 2009 when he championed the Junior U.S. Open Tournament. In 2011, fans began to whisper about the 19-year old and his status as Australia’s favorite son. By the end of the year, Tomic has climber from a 209 ranking to number 42. He was the youngest player in the top 100 last season.

The 2012 Australian Open has set two-day attendance records for the event’s opening two-days. With Tomic remaining in the draw and some high-profile matches on the slate for the next two days, this may well break all Australian Open attendance records.

In Round Three, the Australian will face another stern test from 13th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine. The two have met on three occasions and Tomic has never won. Last year, their two matches went three sets. These competitors share one trait and that is that there games are unconventional. They hesitate to engage long rallies with more powerful opponents. Instead they rely on using the opponent’s power to their advantage and are very patient.

In other second round action, Colombia’s Alejandro Falla downed an out of sorts Mardy Fish in three grinding sets 7-6 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (6). Falla used his backhand to counter every move by Fish. The 8th seeded Fish was placed well in the draw and now that bracket is op-en for Falla to move deeper into the draw.

Falla held off several rallies by Fish whose normally reliable serve was uncomfortably soft. Both players registered 5 aces but Fish’s unforced error column totaled 58 compared to Falla’s 34. Fish only won 62percent of his first serves and 49 percent of his second serves.

In the tournament’s longest match, John Isner outlasted David Nalbandian in 4 hours and 41 minutes by a score of 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8. Isner benefitted by what appeared to be a confused overrule from the umpire. To make matters worse, the chair would not permit a review of the shot.

Isner definitely has his own style where his big serve is a difficult obstacle for challengers to overcome. He is fast becoming one of the best tiebreak players on the tour.

The day’s most remarkable shot was 11th seed Juan Martin Del Potro’s between the legs drive that caught opponent Blaz Kavcic flatfooted at the net. Del Potro shook off the rust of his opening round and looked like a serious threat to go deep in the tournament.

Kim Clijsters The Real Deal

Just as Del Potro is seeded 11, Kim Clijsters has the same role in the Women’s Draw. They share the fact that nobody really wants to play against them. Clijsters has returned to the tour for what may be her last season. After injuries sidelined her for most of the year, Clijsters arrived in Melbourne in fantastic shape and with her A++ game.

Looking every bit the favorite, the Defending Champion, a slim, trim and talented Clijsters downed Stephanie Koretz Gacon of France 6-1, 6-0 in what amounted to a short workout. Clijsters look more fit than when she came back in 2010. Clijsters is not the bookmaker’s favorite but she looks like a very good bet.

In a battle of Italian women, Francesca Schiavone succumbed to unheralded Romina Oprandi 6-4, 6-3. Franscesca had her feet working but she was erratic at key points in the match. Oprandi seemed to catch the 10th seed by surprise.

After defeating Lucie Safarova in the first round, young American Christine McHale drew raves from Chris Evert in her come form behind victory against hard-hitting Marina Erakovic 3-6. 7-6 (4), 6-3.

McHale did well to keep her emotions in check. Every point was contested. Once McHale captured the second set tiebreaker, she used the momentum to her advantage. Surprisingly, young American women are holding their own in Melbourne. McHale is the highest ranked American other than Serena Williams. McHale has the quiet competitive focus of a champion.


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