Another Tomic in a hurry
Saturday, 19 January, 2013
By David Packman
Ahead of big brother Bernard’s third round blockbuster with Roger Federer at Rod Laver Arena, 14-year-old Sara Tomic took to the courts at Melbourne Park to compete as a wildcard in her second Australian Open junior championships.
The highly-talented teenager, currently ranked junior world No. 217 and considered by those in the know to have as much potential as Bernard, took on Czech Gabriela Pantuckova in front of a raucous crowd on the outside courts.
Her 17-year-old opponent, with three years more experience and ranked over 150 places higher, was unlucky enough to run into Tomic in the early rounds of the lead-up tournament in Traralgon last week, where the young Aussie managed to topple her in a third set tiebreaker during a solid run to the quarterfinals.
As it was last week, Tomic’s powerful game came to the fore once again today, and to a standing ovation from the crowd, she overcame a slow start to wear down her opponent 2-6 6-2 6-4 after two hours and 15 minutes.
In a moment of déjà vu – although she lost last year on the day of Bernard’s fourth round capitulation to Federer – Sara hopes her efforts today are a better omen for her brother this time around.
“This time I’ve won,” she said with a mischievous grin.
Sara Tomic is ambitious and highly motivated, and she doesn’t take her often-stated goal of becoming the best player in the world lightly.
“That’s still the plan. And I’ll get there,” she said.
“I just want to get there so fast. I know I have to try and slow down. I know it’s all about time, dedication, hard work.”
For now, her next major focus is qualifying for the juniors at this year’s Wimbledon.
Those close to Tomic say her upside is in her power. Heading toward six foot (183cm) and possibly more by the time she stops growing, her camp says she will develop an even bigger serve to match those already powerful groundstrokes.
Tomic admitted today she looks up to another powerful player for inspiration.
“I idolise Serena (Williams),” she said. “I just absolutely love her.”
Obviously, balancing her tennis commitments and her education is paramount at such a tender age and in that regard, Tomic seems to understand her priorities well.
“I do distance education. My mum helps me and I have a teacher that comes every semester to see how I’m doing.”
“I’m very good,” she added. “I’m a straight-A student and I love working.”
Hopefully, both for the Tomics and the parochial crowd at Melbourne Park, Sara’s win today can create the momentum required to push Bernard over the line in arguably his greatest ever challenge.
Regardless of the outcome, Sara will be courtside tonight urging her brother on.
With a bit of luck, she’s hoping not to fall asleep during the match either, as she famously did last year.
“I had a 40-degree match that day!” she laughed.
Showing her natural maturity, Tomic revealed that she saw tonight as an opportunity for some valuable tennis education.
“I’m really looking forward to watching [Bernard] play. It’s amazing to watch your brother play one of the best all-time players ever … and learning from it. I’m just so proud of him.”
As far as her own immediate challenge, Tomic now moves through to a Grand Slam second round for the first time, where she faces German fourth seed Antonia Lottner.
Anything Bernard can do, I can do … says Sara
January 20, 2013
IF SARA Tomic is less ambitious than her big brother, she doesn't have much catching up to do. She has big ideas: to become the best player in the world, to win grand slam tournaments, to win more of them than Bernard does. Trouble is, she's still only 14. ''That's still the plan and I'll get there,'' she said. ''I want to get there so fast, but I have to slow down. It takes time, a lot of dedication, hard work.''
She's off to a good start. Tomic made it to the quarter-finals of a tournament in Traralgon last week and yesterday won her first-round juniors match at the Open, dropping the first set but talking herself through it. She was pleased she found a way, that she had believed in herself, but soon afterwards her thoughts had turned to something else: getting up into Bernard's box to watch him play Roger Federer.
Having Bernard for a brother has its benefits. There have been practice sessions with him, which have shown Sara how fit she'll have to get, how many balls she'll have to get back. ''He sometimes hits a bit harder than me, but it should be like that. It's different playing with someone who does not miss, you see what the pro level's like. In juniors they miss, but at pro levels it's way up.'' There have also been plenty of rides in the yellow Ferrari. ''Of course, all the time! He loves it. I say: 'Can you take me to this, take me there?' It's all good.''
Before reintroducing himself to Roger, Bernard had described the talking-to he gave himself at the end of last season, the improved attitude that Sara has seen with her own eyes. Her brother was, she said, a changed man, but one with plenty of work still to do. ''I've seen him change in the last couple of months. It's big. He's really been confident and I'm so proud of him, even if he loses I'm proud. But I'm happy with what he's been doing, he's been working really hard the last nine weeks, and if he believes, he can do anything,'' she said.
''I saw Federer talking and he knows how hard it is to be top-10 because he's one of the world's best players, and it's just interesting how you see someone who's up there saying how tough it is when Bernard's just a little bit under. He just needs to know how really hard it is.''
Tomic will have more work to do herself, in a second-round match against fourth-seeded German Antonia Lottner she hoped to spend a few minutes studying before heading up to centre court. Once her Open is over she plans to play three grade-one junior tournaments for the year - ''and I want to win one of them, or all three, see how I go'' - and play in the junior event at Wimbledon. She studies via distance education, so that she can do enough training, and hasn't struggled for motivation so far.
''My mum helps me here and there and I have a teacher that comes every semester to see how I'm doing,'' she said. ''But I'm very good. I'm a straight A student. I love working.''
Tomic still feels like a kid some of the time, though. ''I idolise Serena Williams,'' she said. ''I just absolutely love her, I just adore her. I saw Venus, and I almost died.''
I can't imagine her movement would be good, if she is pushing 6 ft. at 14 then she is going to have some troubles. That's something she'll grow into and when she gets stronger her movement will no doubt get better. If she is pushing top juniors with that down-side then she must have some real talent