x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Bernard Tomic relishing Roger Federer encounter in Melbourne

The 19 year old Australian takes on his childhood idol in the Australian Open fourth round.

Bernard Tomic faces Roger Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Bernard Tomic faces Roger Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Bernard Tomic once sat glued to the TV watching his hero Roger Federer but on today he will be on the other side of the net, battling the Swiss for a place in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The Australian teenager has knocked over two seeds on his way to the round of 16 and now faces a player he rates as the greatest of all time in an intriguing clash of tennis's ruling class against a pushy pretender.

Tomic, 19, has already played the Swiss in the Davis Cup in Sydney last September, losing in four sets, but the rising star now faces the 16-time grand slam champion on the biggest stage.

"I'm playing good and have a lot of confidence and it's my home grand slam. People are going to support me," said Tomic, whose languid and composed playing style belies his tender years.

"Sometimes it's not support. Against Roger you need to know how to play tennis and I need to play well if I have any chance of beating him. That's why he's the greatest to play the sport.

"I'm happy to play him again. I had the experience in Davis Cup, which is good for me. I know sort of a way to sort of play him in a way, but Roger can play unbelievable.

"He's my favourite player, so it's always good to play him."

Tomic said as a 10 year old he watched the first of Federer's six Wimbledon triumphs in 2003, describing the Swiss maestro as a pleasure to watch.

"I looked up to him a lot. He was like my idol," said Tomic, welcoming the chance to play him again in what will be the opening evening match on the Rod Laver Arena.

Tomic, currently ranked 38, comes into the match as one of the most talked about young stars on the tennis circuit for his unconventional style of sliced backhands, off-pace forehands and tennis intelligence.

Last year he became the youngest man in 25 years to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon before he lost to Novak Djokovic, the world No 1. Now he has another of tennis's 'Big Four' blocking his way to the last eight in Melbourne.

"It's a big feeling and I'm happy with what I achieved last year," he said.

"This year has been great. It's a start of a good year for me so I can't wait to play Roger."

Tomic said he spoke with Federer at last year's Davis Cup tie and got a couple of tips and believes he has improved since taking a set off him on grass.

"Now, having played him before, I have an intense sense of what he can do and where he can hurt me, where he can't," he said. "I've got to go out there feeling good and have a go and try to win.

"I think I can get the balls down to where Roger probably can't use his backhand enough. He has one of the best forehands in the world.

"I think I play really smart. Hopefully my smartness can make me win a set or two, maybe even win. I can't guarantee. It's Roger."