Tomic tantalizes wary Australia with Bogota win

Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:53am EDT
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's frosty relationship with bad boy Bernard Tomic looks set to thaw after the 21-year-old displayed grit and passion to grind down big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic 7-6 3-6 7-6 in the Colombian Open final on Sunday.

Too late to win automatic qualification for next month's U.S. Open, Tomic's second ATP title was a timely riposte to an army of critics in his home country and came only days after being dumped by powerful sports management company IMG.

"He's a very difficult player," Tomic said of Croatian Karlovic, the second seed and defending champion, who might be sick of the sight of Australians after being edged by former world number one Lleyton Hewitt at Newport earlier this month.

"He won here last year. For me it was a difficult match. I kept trying and believing in myself. Against him, if you stop believing and trying he will beat you."

Tomic's victory has lifted his world ranking up to 70 after it had drifted out of the top 100, ending a dreadful six months in which he struggled to string two wins together after coming back from surgery on both hips.

Prior to the surgery, Tomic was forced to retire in the first round of his home grand slam against Rafa Nadal in January and despite his clear discomfort, was jeered by fans at Rod Laver Arena.

He was further slammed by home media in Australia after he bowed out in his comeback match 6-0 6-1 to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen at the Miami Masters, losing in 28 minutes, the quickest ATP victory since records started in 1991.

NEW STAR   Continued...

Bernard Tomic of Australia hits a return to Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic during their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 25, 2014.      REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett