Tomic’s hidden career resurrection
IT'S too precarious to do anything more than whisper it, but Bernard Tomic is very quietly going about piecing his broken career back together.
The 25-year-old fallen Aussie star has won 11 of his past 14 matches and his pulse is thumping.
He stands just one win away from a crucial return to a top-100 ranking.
It could be the most important rankings climb he's had in years if he is able to win through to the semi-finals of the Chengdu Open in China.
Having won through to just his second quarter-final appearance of 2018 with a fighting - that's right, fighting - 7-6 2-6 7-6 win over South Africa's Lloyd Harris yesterday, Tomic needs to beat only Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime (who upset Australian Open semi-finalist Hyeon Chung in the second round) to rise to a ranking of No.100 and gain an inside run for an automatic spot at the 2019 Australian Open.
The cut-off for direct entry to the Australian Open is usually No.104. Tomic was forced into qualifying this year and lost in the last round.
A career that promised so much when he exploded onto the scene in 2011, as the youngest quarter-finalist at Wimbledon since Boris Becker in 1986, was on life support just a few short months ago.
His cold war with Tennis Australia continued to define his career. He left in the first week of the Australian Open in January to appear on Channel 10's I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here after he lost in the final round of qualifying.
He hit rock bottom when his career ranking collapsed to a new low of No.243 in May.
Perhaps, maybe, just maybe, the penny is now dropping.
Tomic has since found his feet as a toiler who has been forced to compete in Challenger Tour events and qualify for ATP 250-level tournaments to try to force his way back into the top 100-ranked players.
A player much maligned for his infamous skills in the art of tanking and wilting under pressure is showing fight.
With no other choice and his career on its death bed, Tomic appears to have chosen he wants this after all.
Quietly, out of sight and out of mind, he's now slashed his ranking back to No.123 in the world - and his win through to the quarter-finals of the Chegdu Open on Wednesday will give him that crucial bump.
Including his two wins in Chegdu qualifying, Tomic has won 11 of his past 14 matches - stretching back to his surprising tour event win at the inaugural Rafa Nadal Open in Mallorca - an ATP challenger tour event earlier this month.
Of course, it is baby steps and his streak includes a loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round of qualifying for the US Open.
But the pulse is beating.
Nothing shows it more than the guttural roar he screamed after securing a break of serve in the first game of the third set against Harris.
His uncharacteristic resilience certainly caught the eye of Tennis Australia.
Tomic had to survived a match point to qualify for just his second ATP quarter-final of the year.
Looking to move back into the top 100 by season's end to ensure automatic entry into the 2019 Australian Open, Tomic had to withstand 23 aces and an edgy tiebreaker to get the job done.
After winning a tight first set that didn't feature a break-point chance for either player, Tomic suffered a mid-match malaise and quickly found the ledger squared after having his serve broken twice in a forgettable second.
He soon found his feet again in the third, establishing a 2-0 lead, only to relinquish what would be his only break of serve in the match.
From there the set stayed on serve before Tomic pinched a mini-break in the tiebreaker and had the opportunity to serve out the clash at 5-4. But Harris had other ideas and won consecutive points off Tomic's serve to have the match on his racquet at 6-5.
Tomic returned the favour by winning both points from the Harris serve and then served out the match.
He just needs to keep it going against Auger-Aliassime to secure that rise to No.100.
- with AP