By Dave Gertler
(January 9, 2014) SYDNEY – Bernard Tomic has beaten Alexandr Dolgopolov to reach the semifinals of the Apia International in Sydney. It was an entertaining match from the start, both players being known for their crafty and hard-to-predict shots and patterns of play, Tomic with the bigger serve and shots – when he needs them – and Dolgopolov the faster around the court and able to pull the trigger from anywhere.
The first set was very close, with both players hitting purposefully and matching each other shot for shot. Tomic got the first break but Dolgopolov broke back a couple of games later before Tomic broke again, taking the first set 6-4.
After being broken early in the second set, Dolgopolov lost some crispness off his shots, taking a more defensive style of play, which left Tomic to control most of the points. The crowd in Ken Rosewall Arena swayed between supporting Tomic’s on-court performance, and simply being enthralled at the level of tennis they were seeing from both players.
Dolgopolov briefly returned to the level of play that saw him oust No.2 seed Jerzy Janowicz yesterday in the second round, but it was too little too late, as Tomic held on to win the second set 6-3, the match lasting 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Tomic discussed his mentality going into the match against Dolgopolov, who’s been ranked as high as No.13, saying, “He’s very difficult to play. I knew as soon as I was playing him it was going to be a difficult match. I don’t like playing him. I played the right tennis. I was very focused and very clear what I needed to do.” Expanding on his tactics for this match, he added later, “I played him so many times I know exactly what he’s going to do and does. I’m just probably lucky he was expecting me to play a little bit more the way I played the few other times I played him. But I didn’t. I didn’t let him get into that zone. That’s why I felt like I had the better advantage.”
Tomic’s acknowledged his good form early in the year, saying, “Every match is getting better and better. I played the first match good and it felt very good, comfortable out on the court today, like in the first round.”
Despite clearly being focused on his campaign to defend his Apia International title, Tomic still had time to discuss the jacket he wore in the post-match news conference. When asked about it, he smiled and said, “It’s from space…It’s a very cool jacket. It’s really unusual. I don’t know. I like it.”
Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler, read his blog, and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .