Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A-Tomic and the Slam from Down Under

In a recent interview, Rafael Nadal said that the game was getting faster than ever.
The balls are flying quicker and heavier off rackets designed to impart more spin and power.
He is himself an excellent specimen to testify his claims. And with the likes of Djokovic, Tsonga, Soderling, Del Potro, Fish and Berdych filling the upper ranks, the factor of power seems to be the key to top flight tennis.

That is why, Bernard Tomic comes as a refreshing change.

Born in Stuttgart, Germany to parents of Croatian background, Tomic shifted to Australian when he was three. He first made headlines when he became the youngest ever male winner in the main draw at the Australian Open, in 2009 at the age of 17, as a wildcard.

His playing style is certainly unorthodox and the two most striking aspects of his game are his forehand and his footwork.

He hardly takes a swing behind his forehand, despite which it is generally effective.
His footwork is, to say the least, minimal. Unlike most players who take several strides and then a bunch of mini steps to work their way into a position from which to unravel the shot, Tomic simply takes a couple of steps in the direction of the ball before using his giant wingspan and the above mentioned forehand (or backhand, which seems to be more or less orthodox) to make his shot.

His movement about the court is not as busy and fast as Nadal's or Djokovic's. Nor is it as immaculate as Federer's. It is lazy and laid-back, almost clumsy.

But the bigger picture is not at all ugly. In fact, to watch Tomic play is almost mesmerizing. You are absolutely captivated by his shots - under-paced balls, drop shots (some of them played from well behind the baseline), slices and the squash-like defensive retrieve. He has the ability to change the pace of the rally.
An ability that was on display in his 2nd Round match of the 2012 Australian Open against the American, Sam Querrey (an excellent server with a strong forehand).

He has already displayed moments of brilliance against the current top three in the last year.
Against Djokovic in Wimbledon, where he reached the quarters and took a set off him. Against Rafa in Melbourne, where he spanked his way around for a greater part of the second set to force his opponent to raise his game. And against Federer in Davis Cup, in Sydney, he took a set off in the fourth rubber. He lost that match but he did give Australia hope when he defeated Stanislas Wawrinka in the opening rubber.

Add to his game a little bit of maturity and he could well be the next Grand Slam champion from Australia (who need to go back only as far as 2002 for one, unlike Great Britain).

Five: Steps I need to take to cover the whole court.

Meanwhile, other Aussie Open news:

1. Federer and Rafa are in the same half of the draw. Which means they could meet in the semis. Which will be the first since Roland Garros 2005.

2. The most dangerous crown these days seems to be that of the reigning Grand Slam champion in women's tennis. Kim Clijsters won here last year . She went out in the 2nd round in Paris, where Li Na won. Li Na lost in London in the 2nd round where Petra Kvitova triumphed. She promptly crashed out in New York in the 1st Round. Aussie Sam Stosur won there and in her home slam, completed the cycle by going out in straight sets in the 1st Round.

3. Caroline Wozniacki has been at No. 1 for more than a whole year now. During which time the above ladies won the slams. Come on Caro, for Rory's sake!

4. From Twitter: Sania Mirza exited the Australian Open after losing her first match, as the Indian cricket team looked on with jealousy.

No comments:

Post a Comment