Melbourne, Australia, 10 January 2012 | AAP
Bernard Tomic has shrugged off suggestions he could suffer a Sam Stosur-style nosedive at next week’s Australian Open.
As the country’s highest-ranked male player, Tomic dismissed the suggestion he might be affected by the weight of expectation.
Stosur, the US Open champion, was again outplayed by her perpetual tormentor, Italian Francesca Schiavone, who knocked her out of the first round of the Sydney International on Monday.
The 19-year-old Brisbane International semi-finalist will be one of the eight high-calibre players contesting the Kooyong Classic starting in Melbourne on Wednesday.
He will face Czech World No.7 and Hopman Cup winner Tomas Berdych in his first match.
The others against whom Tomic could test himself are French pair Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, former world No.1 Andy Roddick, US star Mardy Fish, as well as promising young Canadian Milos Raonic and Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer.
But the 37th-ranked Tomic said his off-court attitude was as calm and unworried as he appeared while playing matches.
“There’s a lot of pressure going around, especially for me being young but I like to play tennis and enjoy it out there. I don’t worry about it off-court,” Tomic said.
“I know Sam lost but I’m playing well and I’m confident, but I’ll worry about the business outside when I lose.
“I’ll have fun and wherever this year takes me, it takes me. I’m not really worried about where my ranking is.
“That’s why I’m doing well. That’s what I like to focus on and I know my ranking will come after that.”
Seven-time major winner John McEnroe this week earmarked Tomic as a future grand slam winner, but Roddick was more circumspect on Tuesday.
“We’ll see,” Roddick said.
“Everybody ranked at a certain ranking is a potential grand slam winner, especially when they’re at a young age.
“They’re for sure going to be top 15, top 10 players but it’s hard to predict who becomes top five for a long time and who doesn’t, but they’ll certainly have a shot at it.”
Tsonga will meet Melzer in the opening match on Wednesday followed by the clash between Tomic and Berdych.
Fish will then meet Raonic while the last match will be between Monfils and Roddick.