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Bernard Tomic makes a clean forehand return to Igor Andreev.
BERNARD Tomic has downplayed the achievement of replacing Lleyton Hewitt as Australia's No. 1 player after steaming into uncharted grand slam territory, preferring to focus on more Wimbledon success.
Tomic, 18, will climb to 125th in the world after earning a crack at world No. 5 Robin Soderling tonight with a 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-1 win over fiery Russian Igor Andreev.
A qualifier here, Tomic is the youngest man in the world’s top 150 – and could soon break into the top 100.
“Well, it’s a good feeling,” Tomic said, referring to his rankings boost. “I haven’t really focused on that too much.
“I know ranking will come if I win, especially if I win another game. I have another tough opponent.
“I’m just going to focus on this and see where my ranking is after the tournament.”
Tomic described his epic win as a challenge.
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“That was my first really test I think, challenge,” he said.
“It’s the first time I’ve been down in my career two sets to love and a break and potentially a double break down.
“I think I gave it a shot. I tested myself to win that match, to get back in that third set, and I did.
“Then that rain came and the nightfall.
“So I was happy that I won the third set before dark, and I gave myself a chance in today’s fourth set.”
Asked what advice he had been given overnight, he said grinned and said: “Definitely not hit to his forehand.
“He was just dominating me for the first two sets. I think I played too defensive.
“Against a player like that that moves you around the court really well, that was a stupid tactic of mine.
“But then fourth set, fifth set, I started to play a little bit more deeper and faster, and that’s something I picked up on in the third set where he made a few errors.
“He doesn’t really like to be pushed. He likes to be played slow, and I think tactics were right today for me.”
Tomic was on the ropes late on Thursday when, trailing 0-2 in the third set, he struggled to cope with Andreev’s power.
But, with the contest slipping out of his hands, the Gold Coaster contrived a remarkable escape and forced the match into a fourth set as darkness fell.
Asked to explain how he dodged certain defeat, Tomic said: “I don’t know, that third set wasn’t looking good for me yesterday.
“I sort of figured him out and gave myself the chance to come back today.
“It’s a big thing to be part of Wimbledon, to have the chance to qualify, to even be part of this tournament.”
In a sign that the hostility has thawed between the Hewitt and Tomic camps, the teenager said he would speak with Hewitt about how best to tackle Soderling.
The Swede overcame Hewitt in a magnificent second-rounder on Thursday.
Tomic was elated to have reached the round of 32 at Wimbledon.
“The best thing is that’s the first time I’ve come back from a situation like that,” he said.
When the match resumed yesterday, he was never going to lose.
Ranked 158th in the world, he was unfazed by 79th-ranked Andreev’s raw power.
Watched from the player’s restaurant balcony by Hewitt and Davis Cup coach Tony Roche, Tomic claimed the contest when Andreev snapped a forehand wide after 2hrs,44 mins.
Tomic, a dual grand slam junior singles champion, was supported courtside by his father and coach John and Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter.
With three wins in qualifying and two in the main draw, Tomic’s confidence is building rapidly.