Sport Tennis Back to work for titleholder Tomic

Back to work for titleholder Tomic

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Party time is over for Bernard Tomic as he gets down to the more serious business of winning tennis matches again.

After ending 2013 with five straight first-round losses and then celebrating his 21st birthday in November with lap dancers at a Gold Coast night club, Tomic returns to work as defending champion at the Sydney International starting on Sunday.

And the Australian No.1 can’t wait for the focus to return to his on-court antics.

“Everyone has their off time. Some people use it differently than others,” Tomic said on Saturday.

“But I’m back into tennis now, back into tournaments, and this is something that is very important for me and I’m ready for the Australian summer and hopefully I can do better because each year I’ve started doing better and better in Australia.

“So hopefully this is going to be an even better one.”

Tomic had two wins from three matches at this week’s non-sanctioned Hopman Cup, but admits having to defend a truckload of rankings points accrued from triumphing in Sydney last year and then reaching the Australian Open third round brings added pressure.

“But I always have pressure in Australia to play well and I always manage to do that,” he said.

“This week is a new challenge for me – it’s my first defence – and I’m ready.

“Last week was really good. I managed to play really well so I’m taking good confidence into Sydney this week.”

Unlike Australia’s top-ranked woman, Samantha Stosur, who has a dreadful record in Australia, Tomic thrives when playing in front of his home fans.

“I’m the sort of guy that needs that extra energy to lift and when I play in Australia, I have that,” he said.

“The support gets behind you and I manage to turn on and stay focused and consistent throughout the match.

“Sometimes when I’m away from Australia, I lose that.

“But I won an Australian Open junior (title) at 15. From then on, I’ve loved it, playing here. It’s so good – and I’ve managed to play well.”

Ranked 51st in the world, Tomic needed a wildcard into the Sydney event and was pleased to avoid top seed Juan Martin del Potro at Saturday’s draw.

He instead opens against Spanish eighth seed Marcel Granollers.

Three other Australians were also awarded wildcards.

Matt Ebden faces French sixth seed Julien Benneteau in the first round, Marinko Matosevic meets German Florian Mayer and Sam Groth plays Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.