Bernard Tomic has implored the Australian public to back him as he reboots his career at the Australian Open qualifiers on Tuesday.
Tomic hasn’t played in an ATP tournament since September, when he retired in the first round of a qualifer event in Kazakhstan. That loss was his fifth in a row, with his highest-ranked opponent during that streak a lowly No.125 in the world.
At that point, many thought Tomic would retire. But the one-time world No.17 took to Instagram last month to announce he was ready to knuckle down in a serious attempt to resurrect his career.
After posting a string of videos and photos of training sessions, Tomic’s comeback proper begins in the first round of Australian Open qualifiers against Russia’s latest uncovered gem, Roman Safiullin, on Tuesday.
With several higher-ranked stars unavailable during the ATP Cup, Safiullin was Russia’s No.2 seed. He impressed many pundits and is arguably the form player in Tomic’s part of the qualifying draw.
Bernard Tomic practices on Monday.Credit:Getty
It’s a challenge the 29-year-old is ready to meet head-on.
“I feel really good,” Tomic told the Herald and The Age. ”I feel like I’ve settled in because I’ve been at the AO for a few days now. I feel really relaxed. I’m happy in myself. I’m happy to be here.
“I feel like it’s one of the toughest matches in qualifiers that I’ve been drawn. We both qualified last year, so it’s a tough challenge to get him first round.
“I’ve trained with him before, and I’d like to think that playing me is not something he would want in the first round of qualifiers. He’s such a hard worker and doesn’t let anything go. He’s beaten [Andy] Murray and had a very strong start to the summer, but hopefully I can get up and get the win.”
While Safiullin is as tough a task as Tomic could have faced in the first round of qualifiers, the controversial Wimbledon quarter-finalist believes he is primed to progress and put himself in a position to feature in the main draw.
“I’m confident I’ve done the work,” Tomic said. “I might not be match fit, but I’m feeling fresh and ready to go.”
In December, Tomic said he would use social media barbs as motivation in his bid to regain a spot in the world’s top 20.
“I’ve had a lot of hate in my life. But I can’t give up. You don’t think I see the hate comments? It hurts,” Tomic said in an Instagram video.
“In the past, I used to let it get to me and react out of stupidity. But now I’m using it as fuel. I’m back, I’m hungry, and I’m ready. No-one can stop me now but me.
“I’m training, I’m sweating, I’m pushing, I’m fired up. Whatever it takes to get back on top. Hard work pays off. I’ve put my blood sweat and tears into this sport.”
But he hopes the hate will turn into support, after his push to rebrand on social media.
Entry to Melbourne Park during qualifiers is free, and Tomic asked the Australian public to show their support for his renewed career at Kia Arena.
“I just want the Australian public to get behind me,” Tomic said. “Hopefully there are some people who want to come out and enjoy a free day of tennis and show their support. It’ll be nice to play in front of them again.”
In other Australian qualifying results on Monday, Max Purcell, Kimberly Birrell, Rinky Hijikata, Dane Sweeny and Philip Sekulic won their way to the second round.
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