Exclusive interview with Bernard Tomic.
The Australian, the only teenager in the world’s top 50 and a quarter-finalist at last year’s Wimbledon, has told The Tennis Space that the grass is “perfect” for his game. Tomic, who knows he can “take the normal out of tennis”, also spoke of his belief that “talent is one thing but works beats talent”, and how he must be disciplined if he is to have a successful career: “Sometimes if you have talent it can cost you in matches.”
Which parts of your game need to improve to get into the top 10?
“Not so much the skills but I think the mental side is what I need to improve the most. I think that’s the difference between my ranking now and in the future. Every year I am getting better and better. Everything’s going up. I keep telling this to everyone. One year ago I was 200, before that I was 600 it. When I am one year stronger I will be playing better tennis and getting up. I think I’ll become more physically stronger and I’ll be getting better. Mentally everyone needs to be strong and I need to improve, for sure, to be top 10. It’s going to be an interesting year.”
Have you stopped growing?
“I have stopped growing. Length-wise, I have stopped. I don’t want to grow any more than 6ft 4, 6ft 5. I think I move well for my height, not that great but good. I read the play really good and once the ball is on my racket I can do a lot of things. That’s how I have probably got to where I am now, I’ve got good racket control and hands but to take that step further I need to become a big time player and that’s the difference between the guys, I think, the ranking down from the top four, I need to search for that little bit more.”
Are you working out more off the court?
“When I was young, I did a lot of on-court work. When you’re young I think it’s all about how you develop, how you play the game. You’ve got to have your own sense. No one taught me how to play. I kind of taught myself and became good at it. But I think to make that next step is all physical. If you look at the guys, three, four in the world, their bodies are among the best bodies, they can endure the most out of the year and they are competing in every tournament they play, they’re making the semis or more. To become that good a player you need to be the right athlete.”
What’s your definition of talent?
“Sometimes if you have talent, it can cost you in matches because sometimes the players who have less talent but are working more, can beat you. For me, I have the talent and I work also. I have to be disciplined in my career. Talent is one thing but work beats talent.”
You have a lot of options – that can make shot selection tricky?
“I am lucky, I have a quick sense and understand the court and understand tennis. I am very lucky with this. I know how to pick up these weaknesses. If you look at the guys, 80-90 percent of the Tour is exactly the same. That’s why they struggle against my game or against (Alexander) Dolgopolov’s game because we take a bit of the normal out of tennis. I sort of learnt to play my game and every day I am learning to play new shots. It’s funny, you learn new shots, new positions on court and how to hit. For me, when I was 7, 8, when I started, until 15, I learnt a lot in tennis. But from 15 to now, in three, four years, I have learnt so much and imagine, in another two years. At the high level, you’re going to learn a lot. I’m ready for this challenge, it’s going to be interesting. Good career I have ahead of me, if I stay healthy. You can’t play if you’re not healthy – we may as well go to the beach.”
What’s more important to you? Wimbledon or the Olympics?
“Both. The whole grass-court season is something I am working on. (I have got) a good seeding and I can do even better maybe than last year. Then the Olympics of course, that’s my dream. Anyone’s dream is to play the Olympics, it’s one out of four years. It’s still a huge tournament. Every player is there, Roger and Rafa (Nadal). It’s an opportunity. I have those two big tournaments to look forward to and I’m ready for this year for Wimbledon to just step up and have a good one, a better one.”
Is grass and Wimbledon the best chance for you to win a grand slam title?
“All time, all career. A lot of players don’t like playing me and the grass surface is perfect for that. I love the ball low, so it’s not a problem for me.”