Aussie young gun Bernard Tomic stole the show on opening day of the Australian Open Monday, staging an epic comeback in sweltering afternoon heat to defeat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in four hours and 11 minutes at Rod Laver Arena. The 19-year-old Tomic — Australia’s top-ranked men’s player at No. 38 — came through with the finest performance of his fledgling career in upsetting one of the fittest players on the tour. Verdasco, the No. 22 seed, appeared to be in total control after taking the first two sets and seemingly not even phased by the 93-degree mid-day heat. ESPN commentator Darren Cahill’s post-match tweet summarized what anyone witnessing the match must have thought. “Stunning effort from Bernie. Gave him no chance after dropping a tough first set, let alone going down two sets,” he said. It was then that a weary Tomic turned to rope-a-dope tactics that bamboozled Verdasco. “In that third set, I knew that if I lifted my game early, he would have lifted as well,” Tomic said. “I had a feeling he knew I was going to go away. I eased off and seemed I didn’t care, and I think that’s what drew him a little bit. He thought he was going to win that third set, and when the right time came, I broke him.” The break came in the ninth game and gave Tomic a glimmer of hope. Tomic held and then buzzed through the fourth set in 35 minutes as Verdasco began to wither. In a gripping final set the Spaniard needed every bit of his serving prowess to hold Tomic at bay until he was broken in the 11th game. Tomic served it out, punctuating the win with a forehand, down-the-line winner on match point. Verdasco served 15 aces to seven for Tomic. The Spaniard also led in winners, 57 to 44, but committed 83 unforced errors to 60 for the Aussie. “Anything is possible if you keep trying,” Tomic said. “Same thing happened at Wimbledon when I was in the second round. I was losing two sets to love down and made the quarters.” That was last year when Tomic became the youngest man in 25 years to reach the quarterfinals at the All England Club. Next up for Tomic is American Sam Querrey in a second-round matchup.
Tomic Stuns Verdasco in Aussie Thriller
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