Tag Archives: Bernard Tomic

Omar Jasika – I kept fighting.

11 Sep

Omar Jasika US juniors 2014

Melbourne junior Omar Jasika has joined the ranks of Pat Cash and Bernard Tomic by winning the US Open Boys Singles. Omar even went one step better than those guys by also winning the doubles title with Japan’s Naoki Nakagawa. In the singles he defeated players from the USA, Germany, France, Korea and Cyprus – again a reminder of the cosmopolitan nature of the sport.

Jasika, whose whole family are members of the Melbourne suburban Bentleigh Rec. and Clarinda Tennis Clubs, went into the event unseeded and along the way to the title defeated 3 players ranked in the top 8 seeds. In the final he managed his first win over world #4 junior and European Champion, Frenchman Quentin Halys. Halys is a powerful ball striker and has plenty of big game experience, but lefty Jasika was able to quell Haly’s power and fought back from the brink of a straight sets loss to take out the title in a gutsy 3 set win.

Great to see Omar is another in the “I started playing tennis by hitting a ball against the wall” production line. He regularly practices with Kei Nishikori, who he describes as a mentor figure. Pat Cash remarked “Jasika reminds me of former world #1 Marcelo Rios, a lefty and whilst not tall, hits the ball hard and fast”. Hopefully Cashy is on the money. Omar kept it simple in his press conference after the final. “I hung in all week and kept fighting”. Omar Jasika is a player to look out for over the next few years.

Congrats to Omar and the Bentleigh corner shop Jasika family!


Tomic stretched. Barty all business.

27 Aug


Aussie young guns Ash Barty and Bernard Tomic advanced in contrasting styles in the 1st round at the US Open today.

Australia, despite being in the tennis wilderness for the best part of ten years (with apologies to Lleyton Hewitt – whose great big heart has broken his little body, and the phlegmatic, roller coaster that is Sam Stosur) was able to brag of two winners on day one of the 2013 US Open.

Teen prodigy Ash Barty broke through in her debut US Open singles match with a resounding 6-1, 6-4 victory over Spain’s  Estrella Cabenza Candela. Barty looked comfortable out on Court 15 and a sign of her maturity was her ability to return serve well and convert four of nine break point opportunities. In a really good gauge to how far Ashleigh Barty has come, her next match pits her against 2011 quarter finalist Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Coach Jason Stoltenberg will have done his homework and Barty may well surprise a few more players along the way.

Despite not having father and coach, John Tomic in the stands, Bernard Tomic was able to overcome his Spanish opponent, lefty Albert Ramos in a gruelling 5 set match 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. Twenty year old Australian Tomic was able to grind out the win with his trademark angles, court craft and cunning, in what was described as the best match of opening day.

In the battle of the “bad boys”, look for Tomic to advance past Brit surprise packet Daniel Evans. Evans trounced Japan’s world #11 Kei Nishikori in straight sets. Tomic was prophetic, and somewhat ironic in his post match interview, and referred to “today being all about finding a way to get out of tough situations”. Scary one line summary of his fledgling career.

The PRO.

Caroline Garcia – school’s in.

26 Jun

Youth Gone Wild

French 18 year old Caroline Garcia. “Yes, I have a dream to be No. 1.

While Aussie Bernard Tomic, at 20 is the youngest player in the Wimbledon men’s draw, the women’s singles is littered with youth. And they are from all parts of the globe, not just traditional tennis strongholds. File away these names Monica Puig from Puerto Rico, Eugenie Bouchard from Canada, Brit Laura Robson and Anna Schmiedlova from Slovakia for starters. Big hitters, flair, talent and paving the way for others to follow from their homelands.

Another blazing a very bright trail, is France’s Caroline Garcia. At 18 Garcia is destined for greatness – a big call, but when Martina Navratilova is the person making the proclamation- we listen. Athletic with a pounding forehand, Garcia is drawn to meet Serena Williams – and in one of those strange quirks of tennis draws, she also met Serena 2 weeks ago at the same stage of the French Open, losing 6/1 6/2. Serena is in ominous form – a fact borne out by her current career best winning streak of 32 matches. It took her all of 19 minutes to win the first set last night against Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella. Ouch.

So what will Caroline Garcia do? From my perspective there is a macabre fascination – Garcia should still be in school – but in her chosen school, the WTA tour, the “exam” has come very early. Will Garcia have learned from the French Open loss? Her comments following that match suggest she has a strong analytical mind. “Serena’s accuracy is impressive, she strikes the ball hard, and I was running around a lot. Many balls were difficult to return. I have a lot of things to take home with me. I need to work on my game if I want to give her problems next time we play”. Study time is over, the exam is tomorrow.


Linesmen ready. Ballkids ready. Players ready. Play.

24 Jun

Federer practices at Wimbledon

Roger Federer contemplates Wimbledon title #8.

With the countdown to Wimbledon entering the last few hours, it’s time to leave the ugly verbal jousting between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova aside, and focus on some really entertaining match ups the draw has thrown up. While many are distraught that Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal are in the same quarter (due to Rafa’s ranking of #5), it does remind us that tennis tournaments, despite allegations to the contrary by Damir Dokic, are subject to the vagaries of “the draw”.

Have at a look at these 1st round matches. In the women’s there are a couple of standouts. In a battle of emerging young USA talent Sloane Stephens (seeded 17) takes on in form Jamie Hampton. Hampton has risen from a ranking in the 50’s to sit inside the top 25 following her runner-up result at Eastbourne this week. A week earlier and that ranking would have had her also seeded at Wimbledon. Tough for Stephens. Tough for Hampton. My tip Hampton in 3 sets. And in a battle of big hitters – Angelique Kerber takes on Bethanie Mattek-Sands in what is sure to be a slug-fest or the diminutive fast feet of Maria Kirilenko against the hope of the British, lefty Laura Robson.

The men’s draw has thrown up some cracker match ups. Baghdatis versus Cilic, Lopez v. Simon, or the battle of the Serbs – Troicki v. Tipsarevic. All enticing for the fans – but the hottest 1 st round seats may well be at the Aussie matches. Perhaps we may learn something about the mental toughness of Bernard (sans Dad / coach John) Tomic. Tomic is already something of an enigma on tour – he challenges conventional thinking, appears to “coast”, and often leaves us with more questions than answers. In a defining moment in his fledgling career, Tomic plays big serving American Sam Querrey. Will Tomic’s guile and court craft be enough to get him across the line? Where is his head at?

THE match of the 1st round is undoubtedly Swiss ball striking maestro, Stan “The Man” Wawrinka against Little Lleyton Hewitt. These two have history, and a genuine respect for each other forged from their tie deciding Davis Cup battle on grass at Royal Sydney Golf Club. That particular match was an epic affair, where Wawrinka dragged himself across the line in 5 brutal sets. The match had to be stopped due to bad light, as neither player would wilt, and a broken Lleyton Hewitt – yes his BIG heart broke his little body – AGAIN – meekly surrendered his serve the next morning to lose the match. Hewitt has a long memory – and that match hurt. Hewitt in 4 for me.

The PRO.

Little Lleyton

14 Jun

Some words of wisdom from Little Lleyton Hewitt courtesy of the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club, London. Great example of someone growing up in public. Those who don’t know him often wind back the clock to when he was a driven, fanatical and often misunderstood competitor, one whose parents seemed to never let go.

Fast forward to today – Lleyton Hewitt, family man, doting father, introspective, even self-deprecating. Hewitt is a polished media performer, he has learnt a lot along the way – and if you ever get the chance to listen to post match press conferences, have a listen to Lleyton. He shows a deep respect for the game and his opponent – win or lose, never makes excuses, and has a great analytical mind. No wonder he is dipping into tennis (and Aussie Rules football) commentating. Any chance the Tomic’s will take note?


Groth no sloth

13 Jun

Sam Groth – still serving bombs, qualifies at Queen’s.

A quick look at the number of  Aussies in the qualifying draw at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event at The Queen’s Club, London, and you could have been excused for thinking it was the Australian Open about to begin. No fewer than 5 of the 8 seeded players in qualifying were “journey-men” Aussies. It shows, once again that there is no shortage of Aussie talent plying their trade out on tour. But also highlights the chasm between those who might, and those who do, breakthrough.

In this instance it was Sam Groth who made it to the main draw. While Little Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Marinko Matosevic battled it out in the main draw, Groth was rapt to get through. Tomic went down in a tight 3 setter against German Benjamin Becker, with father John Tomic given a special exemption from his ATP tour ban allowing him to watch from the stands. Matosevic got lucky twice – first to draw a lucky loser, then have Michael Llodra pull out injured in the second round. His luck has run out – as he takes on Andy Murray next. As for Little Lleyton – well he’s out there doing what he does best – battling – a 3 set win in his 1st round was followed up by a straight sets win over rising young Bulgarian star (and Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend) Grigor Dimitrov. Next up for Lleyton – big serving Sam Querrey – a winnable match-up for Hewitt as he will have a target coming at him most of the match.

And for the world #232 ranked Sam Groth – a close 3 set loss to another “tattooed” one – Czech Lukas Rosol. While those journeymen Aussies slide off to eek out a living at the next stop on the Challenger tour, Groth can at least feel satisfied on this short step onto the main stage. In one of those statistical quirks: 5 years ago Groth was also ranked #232. The journey goes on.


*PS Sam Groth can lay claim to fame as THE fastest server in men’s tennis – a frightening 263 km/h. See the link for more on Sam.


Land Of the Rising “Son”

3 May

It’s not just Kei Nishikori that is on the fast track to success on the ATP tour, but Japanese tennis in all forms is on the rise. Specialist Talent Development Coach Jamie Parrott explored the courts of Japan to find out more.


While we scour Europe and the USA for development programs and pathways to model, a quiet revolution is under way in nearby Japan. Courts may be limited and on-court time precious, but while viewing training programs in Tokyo, Kyoto and Sapporo it became obvious that this shortage worked as an advantage. The Japanese are certainly three things:  respectful, efficient and disciplined. With sometimes up to 20 players on a court and coaches pumping out single ball fed ball drills, it was obvious that respect, work ethic, concentration and focus to the task at hand were paramount. These qualities were evident at each centre I went to, and go a long way to explaining Japan’s rise in the game.



Kei Nishikori is the face of a surging Japanese interest in tennis, and with Kimiko Date-Krumm’s continued success and longevity on the WTA tour, there is no shortage of good tennis news for Japan. Nishikori is as close to a rock star as one can be playing tennis. He is feted by WowWow the Japanese television network and admired by all and sundry in his homeland. His is an incredible story – Nishikori was nicknamed “Project 45”, as the stated goal from the Japan Tennis Association was to get a player ranked inside Shuzo Matsuoka’s career high of ATP #46 in 1992. Nishikori arrived at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Florida at the age of 14, he was very shy and spoke no English.   

Nishikori battled with bouts of homesickness, but never lost sight of his dream. He is one of the most athletic and tenacious players on the tour today, with a huge forehand and electrifying footwork. Kei Nishikori is the real deal – and his play is just the type to inspire a nation. The fact that last October he became the first Japanese player to win the Japan Open in the event’s 41 year history certainly added fuel to the fire. Kei is BIG in Japan.

While Nishikori may be the flag bearer on the men’s tour, the Japanese can also look to the women. Kimiko Date-Krumm (WTA# 25) at the ripe old age of 43 is inspiration personified and is a “story” every time she plays. Girls can also be inspired by the 31st ranked Ayumi Morita who is in career best form. Both players are sponsored by Yonex, and the Japanese racket manufacturer is in a strong growth position with Yonex endorsed by marketable players from Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and China’s Zheng Jie to Stan Wawrinka, and our own Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic, among many others.

Whilst baseball and football (soccer) are the national pastimes, notable parts of corporate Japan are aware of the push toward tennis. UNIQLO, the Japanese “‘life wear” manufacturer struck gold when they signed world number one, Novak Djokovic  as a “global ambassador” – they did pretty well with their other  global ambassador signing too – Aussie golfer and US Masters winner, Adam Scott.

Japan’s tennis structure is very similar to Australia’s. The governing body for all tennis in Japan is the Japan Tennis Association. The JTA has a strong community tennis network, and whilst courts are relatively scarce in comparison with Australia, Japan, like Australia, has a network of club, adult and school leagues. Regional associations serve the broader tennis community. National teams and squads are fully supported and travel extensively to internal and external competitions. Competition for places in the national academy and teams is fierce and the hard work is paying off at all levels for Japanese tennis. 

On the men’s tour Japan currently boasts 3 players inside the top 100, Kei Nishikori (#15), Go Soeda (career high #47) and Tatsuma Ito (career high#60) with many others such as Yuichi Sugita and Hiroki Moriya knocking on the door. Nishikori’s success as a ¼ finalist at the 2012 Australian Open and as a 3 time ATP tour singles winner has given the motivation and belief to all Japanese players that they too can do it. Go Soeda’s coach, Italian Davide Sanguinetti speaks of the self-belief factor in a recent interview. “Now, they do believe in themselves, especially at hard-court events where they have more experience.” Soeda himself is aware of the Nishikori factor, and sees this as a good case of “anything you can do, so can we.” Soeda embraces the fact there are now many Japanese players pushing each other up the rankings, and says “It also helps when we travel, we can practise together, go eat, hang out and relax together. We need that on the tour.”

As with most growing tennis programs, if you scratch the surface there will be an Australian coaching  connection somewhere along the way. In Japan’s case it is the evergreen Bob Brett, who has spent many years working in Japan, firstly with Mr #46 himself, Shuzo Matsuoka, and then through a talent development program that Matsuoka and Brett devised – the Shuzo Challenge. In many ways the Shuzo Challenge has been the catalyst for change and development of Japan’s male tennis brigade. It has brought all the current crop of players together and has the understated Bob Brett footprint of strong technical fundamentals and a consistently tough environment.

While Brett and Matsuoka maintain strict discipline, which ideally suits the Japanese temperament, I left Japan wondering if Australia too can instil programs that embrace hard work, discipline and respect, and would we be able to adopt and adapt. There is no easy way out, tennis success today is earned, and just like Kei Nishikori – work hard and work smart and do your best every day.