September 3, 11pm local time
THE petulant youth against the grand old stager of Aussie tennis.
Polarising Queensland youngster Bernard Tomic goes up against the Lleyton Hewitt retirement tour in the second round of the US Open.
And the 22 year old up start is the hot favourite at $1.31 with our friends over at online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au to account for the ageing champ as he embarks on his final US Open campaign.
But don’t write the old dog from Adelaide off just yet.
The bookie’s Ben Bulmer reports more money is coming in from punters for Hewitt.
“Don’t discount Hewitt from pushing Tomic all the way in what is a dream match up for Australian tennis fans,” Bulmer said.
It is a dream match up, not just for tennis fans, but also for Tomic, who has matured greatly since his spat with the Aussie champion in 2009.
“I look up to him a lot,” Tomic said.
“He is a legend to me, to a lot of people around the world and it is a shame that maybe, in the next month or so, he might stop.
“But it is an opportunity.
“I have never played him and it could be fun.
“We have played so many times in practice and it is fun always to play Lleyton.
“It is an opportunity for me to make my first third round in the US Open.”
The spat between the pair occurred when Tomic snubbed the dual grand slam winner when he offered to allow the then 16 year old train with him at Wimbledon in 2009.
The pair has since made their piece and Tomic sees him as a mentor.
“It was almost a sign for us to never play, that is how I saw it, with the draws and stuff,” Tomic said.
“But we have to play once.
“Win or lose, we have to have fun, go for it.”
For Hewitt, he says he’s not happy about playing Tomic – or any Aussie, for that matter, saying that it’s awkward.
“He has nothing to lose,” Hewitt said of Tomic.
“He is going to be going for it, so, for me, it is going to be more tough.
“It’s just awkward.
“That’s the only thing to summarise that (playing a fellow Australian).
“I get along great with Bernie.
“Yeah, just awkward. I don’t like playing any of the Aussies.
“For me, in the position that I’m in now, trying to help these guys especially with Davis Cup and the rest of it, it’s tough.”
Tomic rolled Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina in four sets: 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3 to book the date with Hewitt, who beat Kazakhstan’s Aleksandr Nedovyesov. The latter retired due to injury with the score at 6-0 7-6 (2) 2-0 in favour of Hewitt.
Tomic is the 24th seed, while his 34 year old opponent took a wild card to get into the competition.
The attention has come off Tomic of late, with Nick Kyrgios’ moronic behaviour diverting the attention.
But the youngster still managed to get fired up during his match up with Dzumhur.
He complained to the chair umpire about the Bosnian’s support group making too much noise, then directed his ire at the group.
“If you won’t shut them up, I’ll shut them up,” Tomic said to the chair umpire.
Tomic and Hewitt provided a bright spot after Nick Kyrgios, John Millman, Matthew Ebden, James Duckworth, John-Patrick Smith and Thanasi Kokkinakis were all booted out in round one.
Hewitt, forever the fire brand on the court, hasn’t lost the sense of occasion, wearing a shirt with the logo “NYC’mon One Last Time New York” – a cute play on his catch cry, which shot to prominence in America in 2001 when he won the US Open title.
So how are they going to go against each other?
They’ve never faced off in organised competition, but will know each others’ game intimately from going up against each other in practice.
“Our records in practice are probably about 60 per cent (for him),” Hewitt said.
“I don’t like playing him and he doesn’t like playing me because sometimes I do really well against him.
“I just have to go out there and use the moment and have fun.
Hewitt lost the ability to wreck a player with a knock out punch long ago. He is largely a defensive player, who sets up on the base line and waits for his opponent to make a mistake.
He’s a master of the counter punch, capitalising on any thing that doesn’t resemble a crisp, clean stroke.
Hewitt’s forehand is certainly not to die for and he rarely approaches the net, but his precise placement makes him a dangerous foe.
One of his greatest attributes is getting to balls most tennis players would give up on. That Aussie ticker has kept him in games so many times.
It deflates opponents, because he’s sending back difficult service returns and would be winners more often than not.
While his talents have slowly eroded with age, this guy wasn’t a former world number one and two time grand slam champion for no reason. Bernie has to be on his game.
Speaking of Tomic, if you were going to construct a tennis player from scratch, you’d take plenty of this kid.
Six foot five and a tick over 90 kilos, Tomic has the perfect build and moves like a gazelle on the court for his height.
In previous years, Tomic has been slighted for his lack of effort, but it seems he is starting to mature, at least on the court a little, and the effort seems to have improved. Despite what he says, he will want to beat Hewitt.
Tomic game is seen as a bit of an outlier. Something from outside the box.
His forehand is unique in that rather than being fired back with top spin, it has more sidespin on it that makes it skid through, making it more difficult to return. He loves to slice his forehands and his one handed sliced back hand is juicy.
He is seen as hard to prepare for because of his unique style and the space that he operates in on the court.
These are two guys who are at opposite ends of their career. Let’s hope it’s an epic.
Match result: Bernard Tomic wins ($1.31 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Sets: four (3-1) ($3.50 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Look, in a perfect world, Hewitt ploughs through Tomic and goes on a fairy tale run to the US Open final. But this ain’t Kansas and this ain’t 2001. Tomic is the next big thing. All things being equal, he is younger, fitter and more talented than Hewitt. The veteran might have more ticker in his little finger than Tomic does in his whole giant frame, but heart only counts for so much on the professional tennis circuit. This is a grand slam and Tomic will see it as a golden opportunity to enhance both his world ranking and his standing as the next big thing. We love that all his talk about Hewitt in the lead up to the match has been humble, but behind closed doors, we’re sure he’ll also be wanting to fuel his considerable ego. What better way than to see off an Aussie great with a loss? We pine for both Tomic and Kyrgios to get their heads screwed on and usher in a new era of tennis. There’s no doubting this kid’s talent. If he gets the application right, he could do anything. We think Hewitt’s effort will at least help him win one set, ensuring he won’t be blown away in his final US Open match, but, for all the nostalgia, advancement might just be beyond him. Just remember, for all his foibles, Tomic is the number one ranked tennis player in Australia. If he plays like it, Hewitt has no chance in this one.