Breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day. Just ask Bernard Tomic. He was almost floored by a bout of dizziness in the fourth set against Sam Querrey, a fit of the vapours brought on, he thinks, by not having a decent breakfast. And had it not been for the ministrations of the tournament doctor, he might well have been on his way home by now but, instead, he is into the second round and facing James Blake.
For two, nip-and-tuck sets, Tomic, Australia’s greatest hope for the future, was getting the better of Querrey. It was anything but easy but Tomic’s talent for making something out of nothing, for changing the pace and creating the opportunity, was just giving him the edge. If he could make the 6ft 6in American move and bend and lunge, he could find a way to beat him.
The problem with Tomic is that he has all the talent in the world but, as yet, has not worked out how to use it. Well, not on every point. As a result he can veer alarmingly from brilliant to sloppy to inconsistent to dogged – and do it all within the space of one rally. Just when it looked as if Tomic might be getting a foothold in a game, it would run away from him again with a misjudged shot or, more often than not, another Querrey ace. The American banged down 36 of them over the course of the afternoon.
Still, with two tie-breaks to his name, the Australian was happily in the lead when, suddenly, everything went wrong. The third set flew by in just 23 minutes and then, when he was 4-1 down in the fourth, Tomic needed help. He called for the trainer who promptly called for the doctor – the world No.59 was not feeling at all well. He was dizzy, he was breathless and no one knew quite what ailed him. But Tomic had an inkling that the problem lay with his breakfast, or lack of it.
“I felt very bad out there,” Tomic said. “Lost my energy. And that I think was due to I didn't eat as much in the morning. I think I only had a little bit of breakfast. By the time I know it, I was playing and I didn't really eat before. It was a nightmare out there the third and fourth. I think I lost my energy a lot in the first and second set. It's okay. Lucky. Somehow I won. Nightmare.”
The doctor gave him a pill to calm him down and restore his equilibrium and then Tomic slowly got back to work. Giving up the fourth set as a lost cause, he regrouped for the fifth. And somehow he won. He is not quite sure how he did it, but he came through 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3.
“I tried to save as much energy as I can when I knew in the third set that I was feeling very bad,” he said. “He broke me early in the fourth. I felt very bad. So I gave myself, you know, three, four games where I had to, you know, not try as much so I can have the chance of doing as best as I can in the fifth, because I was feeling very bad out there and I wasn't sure what was wrong. Very dizzy. So I gave myself the best chance. Fifth set I think I played very good at the right time.”
And when Tomic plays good on grass, he plays very good. A quarter-finalist in SW19 in 2011, he regards the All England Club as his home away from home. It was from that quarter-final that he began to move up the rankings into the world’s top 100 and on to the top 50. By the time he came back to Wimbledon last year, he was the world No.27 and another good run in the coming days could help get him back to that level. Next in line for Tomic is the veteran Blake.
“He is going to be very difficult to play,” Tomic said. “Doesn't serve as good as Sam. That's important on grass, you know, to return well. It's tough to play a guy that's serving well. So James, you know, is not serving as good as Sam, which it's a bit easier for me. I've got to step up and be aggressive off my game. I'm sure I can win this match, too.”
He can win, of course he can, but only if he eats his breakfast. Like the old adverts used to say: go to work on an egg. You know it makes sense.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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