Australia pray for bad boy Tomic to come good

Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:46am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Wayward talent. Flawed genius. Wasted potential.

Few athletes have inspired so many backhanded compliments as Australia's Bernard Tomic, who has alienated the country's entire tennis establishment while keeping his fans in the palm of his hand.

The lanky 20-year-old has packed a lot into a year, going from the toast of the nation with a fourth-round run at his home grand slam in 2012, to a pantomime villain booted out of the Davis Cup team for a perceived lack of commitment.

In the space of a week, the pendulum of public opinion has swung back in Tomic's favor at Melbourne Park.

The Australian number one will head into Saturday's third-round clash against Roger Federer willed on by 15,000 of his compatriots at Rod Laver Arena.

The 43rd-ranked Tomic brings a lone ATP title on his resume, won at the Sydney International in the leadup, versus Federer's 17 grand slam titles.

He has not let the gulf in achievement quell his bluster, however, declaring himself full of the belief to win.

The Federer clash will be a re-match of their fourth-round encounter at Melbourne Park last year, when a marginally more humble Tomic was spanked in straight sets.   Continued...

Bernard Tomic of Australia celebrates during his men's singles match against Daniel Brands of Germany at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray