The West

Bernard Tomic's moment has arrived.

The sporting calendar has thousands of contests every year. But, sometimes, those contests become events - must-see encounters that can change a team or a player for- ever.

Tonight is one of those contests. Tomic is ranked No.43 in the world but he has much higher ambitions.

Victory over the legendary Roger Federer would add weight to his belief that he can be one of the best players in the world.

Federer has routinely eaten these matches for breakfast. But even he knows this is slightly different.

He has played only two matches this year. Tomic is in outstanding form, is playing at home, has tasted success and yearns for more.

Federer has been Tomic. Before dominating the tennis landscape, he too was young and keen. And while he's a tournament-winning machine, he was once just hoping to cause a ripple against the game's biggest names.

"In 1998, I didn't believe I was going to beat (Andre) Agassi in Basel, but I believed I maybe could hang with him for a bit, and I did. I won five games," he recalled.

"Then, six months later, I beat (Carlos) Moya in Marseille, and he was No.4 in the world and two months later he was No.1. I was also a big believer I could win."

Tomic has always oozed confidence. He's talked the talk for a long time, but now he's starting to back it up with results.

The 20-year-old grew tired of riding a form roller-coaster. His ranking sat beyond 150 until July 2011 when he shot to No.71.

He broke into the top 50 that October, the top 40 on the eve of last year's Australian Open and was No.27 in June.

It took Tomic eight months to rise from 49 to 27, but just 35 days to slide back to the old ranking.

The Australian worked his way back into the top 40 by October, but tumbled again before deciding enough was enough when he reached No.64.

"Before last year, I didn't really have the urge to improve," Tomic admitted.

"I was doing well. I mean, I got to 27 in the world. But I just felt that I started not training as much, not doing the right things, not committing, not focusing on the tennis court. Slowly I was sliding down. Then, you know, I got a wake-up call and I turned around.

"I woke up and I realised that time does fly. If I don't actually put in the hard work, don't actually give 100 per cent every day, that will cost you.

"Lucky I learnt that. Now all I give is 100 per cent. Whether you win or lose, it doesn't matter. It's making me a better player."

Now we'll find out just how much better Tomic has become.

Federer hasn't lost to a player ranked outside the top 20 in a grand slam tournament since 2004 and that was against former world No.1 Gustavo Kuerten at the French Open.

But Tomic believes he can break that trend and is banking on his serve to give him an edge.

"I'm serving the best I've ever been serving," he said.

"I'm finally using the best of my height. It's important to have a good serve at 6ft 4in, 6ft 5in.

"Now I'm serving really well, and that's why I'm winning a lot of matches."

Federer says Tomic has followed the same path most players walk down while establishing their careers.

They experience ups which are quickly followed by downs. He says it takes years to truly discover what is required to win consistently.

"I have so much more experience than him," Federer said.

"Last year I reached my 1000th match on tour.

"I know how hard a five-setter can be. I know how intense a night session can be and all these things.

"Whatever that means, length of rally, length of match, intensity, I've been there.

"That could potentially help me, but it could also not help me."

Which brings us to tonight. For Tomic it is an opportunity to reach that potential and announce himself to the world.

Federer will be hunted, just as he has been for years. While it is yet another third-round clash against an opponent with potential, he knows this clash has an extra edge.

"I'm looking forward to the match. I'm sure it's going to get a lot of attention, hopefully a lot of TV viewers as well," he said.

"Hopefully we're going to live up to the expectations."

The West Australian

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