As if a horror Australian Open draw wasn’t enough, now Bernard Tomic has been stripped of his Sydney International crown as well.
Clubbing winner after winner, a merciless Juan Martin del Potro added to Tomic’s woes with a 6-3 6-1 shellacking in Saturday night’s final at Sydney Olympic Park.
Tomic’s heavy defeat ended his nine-match winning streak at the venue and can’t have filled the 21-year-old with much confidence ahead of his dreaded first-round Open showdown with world No.1 Rafael Nadal on Tuesday.
All business, Del Potro didn’t give the defending champion a sniff, dropping six points on serve all match.
He raced through the first set in 26 minutes, breaking Tomic in the seventh and ninth games as the Australian struggled to cope with the world No.5’s ferocious forehand.
Any hopes of a fightback like in his plucky semi-final win over Sergiy Stakhovsky were scuppered when Tomic dropped serve for a third time to fall behind 3-1 in the second set.
The former US Open champion thundered down his fifth and sixth aces the following game to consolidate the break for a 4-1 lead and there was no way back for Tomic.
Completely dispirited, Tomic dropped his next service game to love before Del Potro served out the match after just 53 minutes.
Del Potro’s victory was his 23rd straight as a top seed, the big Argentine adding the Sydney trophy to titles accrued in Basel, Tokyo, Washington and Vienna as the tournament favourite.
It was the South American’s 18th title of his career and completes a perfect Open preparation for the only player outside Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to have won a grand slam in the past nine years.
Del Potro, who beat each of the so-called Big Four in 2013, launches his Australian Open campaign against a qualifier on Tuesday.