'Tomic the tank engine' back on track

Updated: 20 January 2013 11:53 IST

Tomic's image suffered last year after a terrible streak of losses and brushes with the law. Confessions he gave less than full effort in matches at New York and Shanghai earned him the nickname, "Tomic the tank engine".

'Tomic the tank engine' back on track
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Melbourne:

Rising star Bernard Tomic won back a sceptical public but Roger Federer urged him to drop the trash-talk after the Swiss master schooled his brash young apprentice at the Australian Open.

"Three Cheers For Our Bernie," headlined the Sunday Herald Sun, along with "Not bad, son" after Tomic, 20, tested Federer, 31, but ultimately went down in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in the third round.

Tomic has been a controversial character after some unsavoury incidents last year, and he raised hackles in some quarters by talking up his chances against the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

But he showed vast improvement from last year's Melbourne loss to Federer, and won over a crowd which was initially in favour of the Swiss. Afterwards, he displayed appropriate reverence towards the great man.

"A lot of players, especially in the locker room, they idolize Roger. You want to pick up anything you can from this sort of a player. He is the greatest our sport's ever had," Tomic said.

"You learn something every time you watch him. I learned something tonight as well."

Tomic's image suffered last year after a terrible streak of losses and brushes with the law. Confessions he gave less than full effort in matches at New York and Shanghai earned him the nickname, "Tomic the tank engine".

After beating world number one Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup and winning his first career title in Sydney, coupled with the commendable effort at the Australian Open, his popularity now appears to be back on rise.

But Federer offered some pointed advice when he said the big-talking Tomic should always show respect for his fellow players.

"I think it's important to be confident but obviously you need to respect the game and the other players," Federer said.

"I think he has a lot of respect for me but I'm only one guy out of hundreds out there, so it's important to respect all of us because we make each other better players. We should be thankful for that."

The top four men's players never speak ill of each other. Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal constantly sing each other's praises.

Tomic had raised eyebrows by casting doubt on whether Federer would reach the third round at the Australian Open, and then by provocatively claiming that Saturday was "the perfect time" to beat him.

"I think in our sport, like maybe in golf and stuff, you usually do talk more nicely about the opponents and other players than maybe in other sports like boxing, for instance," Federer said.

"OK, that's an extreme example, but I'm just saying we usually are pretty humble. It's just the way we are.

"At the end of the day we are very friendly with each other in the locker rooms, in the restaurants. We go for dinner away from the courts, stay in touch.

"It's a nice tour to be on. I don't know what he said but I'm saying when you're younger, you don't quite see that."

Meanwhile, the world number 43 pledged to build on the performance unlike last year, when a promising showing in Melbourne was followed by a disappointing season.

"I've got the right goal, the mindset to do what it is I need to do. I'm going to sit down and have my rest time, train, get ready for each tournament I play, like I did here, like I did last week and the week before," he said.

"It's a challenge, but I've committed to myself I'm up for it. I can't wait for the next tournament to start, for me to start training and getting better."

However, the trademark confidence remained undimmed.

"I've been playing amazing tennis," Tomic said. "It's just a matter of time when I get up to the big group of boys in the top 10.

"I've got to believe and keep doing the things I've been doing the last few weeks. I know I'm going to be in there with this attitude."

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