SIXTEEN men will take to the Wimbledon courts today hoping to make it into the last eight, and among them is a name that will not be too familiar to many neutrals.
Away from the big guns of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray sits Bernard Tomic – an 18-year-old Australian of German descent.
Tomic, a qualifier at SW19, hails from the Gold Coast and is Australia’s latest firebrand, following in the footsteps of Mark Philippoussis and Lleyton Hewitt.
He went one better than Hewitt, though, knocking out fifth seed Robin Soderling in three sets, righting the apparent wrong of the Swede’s five-set comeback against Hewitt in the second round.
He goes up against Xavier Malisse today – he could have been given a harder task – and his progress up the ladder has been noted by some of the leading lights.
“Tomic is still lower in the rankings but it seems like he’s making a run,” said Federer, a comparative elder statesman at 29, who recognises the talent coming through.
“It’s good for tennis if new generations move in. When you’re at the practice courts, you see how well these guys are hitting the ball,” he said.
“The next generation is pushing through, too, which is going to make the generation of 21-year-olds aware of that and keep them wanting to improve.
“When I was that age I thought it was stressful to some degree, because everyone is expecting you to break through, and if you don’t, people always ask ‘what’s wrong with you man? There are interesting times for tennis right now.”