Paris, 21 May 2011 | AAP

If Bernard Tomic is a work in progress on the professional tennis tour, he is even moreso on clay.

The teenager steps up his education on red dirt in his French Open first round clash against theatrical Argentine Carlos Berlocq in Paris.

The only time the world No.170 has tasted action at Roland Garros was in 2009, when the then 16-year-old was routed by German Philipp Kohlschreiber in just 72 minutes.

His father and coach John gave a wry smile when reminded of that experience and said that his son needed time to find his feet on clay.

He said the age difference was too significant in modern tennis for 16-year-olds to be able to cope against fully-grown men.

“The surface is still strange for him,” John Tomic said.

“He can hit the ball but the movement [is not there yet].

“Bernard has improved a lot and he has proved he can play with the big guys.

“He is playing an Argentine who is experienced, we will see.

“We are not expecting too much on the clay.

“I hope that he plays better on grass.”

Tomic showed some encouraging signs on clay during last month’s tournament in Monte Carlo and qualified for the French Open courtesy of a wildcard.

His effort in reaching the third round of the Australian Open in January heightened expectations he was not too far away from becoming the nation’s new spearhead on the men’s side.

However his father called for patience.

“In two to three years we can expect big results on clay,” he said.

“Not now.”

If Tomic does reach the second round in Paris, he is in for a major step up in class.

He is likely to face 11th seed and accomplished claycourt player Nicolas Almagro of Spain.