Australia has yearned for a new hero on grass for a long time and Bernard Tomic provided significant encouragement with a four-set win over Richard Gasquet of France, 7-6(7) 5-7 7-5 7-6(5), in two hours and 46 minutes on Centre Court.
Still only 20, Tomic showed immense dedication to duty against a skilled opponent who has reached the last 16 for the past two years.
Tomic was an outstanding junior player and won the Australian Open junior title at the age of 15, a result which signalled to the world that he meant business. As an 18-year-old he moved up a stage in 2011 when he qualified for Wimbledon and reached the quarter-finals, the youngest since Boris Becker in 1985 to do so before Novak Djokovic ended his run.
Those with long memories can recall Gasquet making impressive strokes at Bournemouth back in 2002 and five years after that he went on to become a Wimbledon semi-finalist, losing to Roger Federer.
So the Centre Court was a fine stage, full of Great Britain's Olympic champions from last year, including a suited Andy Murray, for Tomic to make an impact. For a time in the first set he was aided by some noisy chanting in his favour, but that faded away once he had the first set in hand after 46 minutes.
Tomic was under the greater pressure in the first set because he had to save three break points in the fourth game and another before the match went into a tie-break.
Gasquet held a set point but Tomic captured the last three points for a morale-boosting lead.
The second set was seven minutes shorter and gave Gasquet some relief in that he was able to level the match. He saved four set points in the 10th game and broke Tomic's serve immediately for a lead of 6-5. With a love game, in itself a rarity, and a concluding ace Gasquet was on terms after an hour and 25 minutes.
Two love games marked the start of the third set but there were no break points either way until the 12th game. Then Tomic forced Gasquet to go two set points down and the Frenchman went behind again after missing a volley.
The fourth set offered no significant changes in style or belief but Tomic never lost sight of his target and kept his concentration, even when the noise from Laura Robson's match on No.2 court threatened to intrude.
The tie-break which decided the fourth set and the match again saw Tomic keeping his belief in what he was trying to achieve and he ended a satisfactory day's work with a service winner.
Tomic now faces Tomas Berdych and he said: “I'm playing a guy now who's been in the finals of this tournament before. It's not easy. This guy can beat Federer, can beat Novak. I've got to be ready. If that match comes across it will be huge. I can't think ahead of myself, especially playing against Tomas.”
Tomic said he had called his father after the match. “He was very happy. He said I did the right things to have a chance of beating Richard.”
“The main thing is I am having fun. I'm trying to relax as much as I can. In 2011 I had nothing to lose, I really stepped up and played really good. Now I'm feeling very similar. I'm going to keep this up, relax on court, have fun, and see where it takes me here.”
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