Australian Bernard Tomic feels he has taken an important step in his fledgling tennis career after beating world No.1 Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-4 in their Hopman Cup clash at Perth Arena on Wednesday night.
Tomic was at his sizzling best during the 84-minute romp, unleashing 25 winners to 12 notch his second career win over Djokovic.
Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic levelled the Hopman Cup tie at 1-1 after defeating 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-3, with the mixed doubles to decide the winner.
Tomic entered his singles match having lost all three of his ATP matches against Djokovic, including their quarter-final stoush at Wimbledon in 2011.
The 20-year-old Queenslander did get one over Djokovic in a light-hearted exhibition match at the Kooyong Tennis Classic in 2010.
But his latest victory marks a significant step forward in Tomic’s bid to become a world beater down the track, with a gruelling training program during the off-season already paying dividends.
“This is especially something I needed before the Australian Open,” Tomic said.
“I’m playing the best tennis I’ve played the last few years. So I’m really happy with myself.
“I’m just happy that after training the last few months, this is all coming good.
“The training’s paying off. It’s a huge feeling to do this.”
Djokovic said he always knew Tomic had the talent to match it with the world’s best.
“I’ve been saying the last couple of years that he’s right up there with the up and coming players,” Djokovic said.
“He’s very talented and he knows the game really well. He plays very well for somebody of his age.
“Obviously for him, it’s important to be consistent to be successful throughout the whole year.
“He’s been playing really well in Australia, but he wasn’t managing to maintain that level.
“It’s up to him to see how he can adjust to the many different surfaces, but he definitely has the game.”
Tomic, who has slipped to a ranking of 52 after reaching a career-high of 27 last June, frustrated Djokovic during an entertaining opening set.
Djokovic had to save four break points in his first service game, and even had his plea for a change of balls approved after complaining they were too soft.
But the 25-year-old couldn’t hold off Tomic in the ninth game, with three scintillating winners from the Australian securing the crucial break.
Then in the ninth game of the second set, Djokovic saved five break points before Tomic finally broke the spirit of the five-times grand slam winner.