Lost in Australia’s Davis Cup semi-final defeat was Bernard Tomic’s milestone move into the world’s top 20 for the first time in his career.
Tomic’s first-day victory over Dan Evans in Glasgow was enough to vault the 22-year-old into an elite position in the rankings that he’s been chasing since first picking up a racquet.
“This is what you play tennis for, to achieve goals in life,” Tomic told AAP.
“I did at the age of 19 get to 27 in the world, which was very good, and now I’m finally a top-20 player.
“From where I started the year at 70 in the world and defending Sydney, that was very big for me and now to be in the top 20 in the world, I’m very happy.”
In making the rise, Tomic breaks Samantha Stosur’s unbroken six-and-a-half-year stint as Australia’s top-ranked tennis player.
He is also the first Australian since Lleyton Hewitt five years ago to crack the top 20 in the men’s rankings.
Perhaps it was his ambitious father John’s spruiking when he won the 2009 US Open junior title that his son would “win 10 or 12 grand slams”, but for whatever reason Tomic’s breakthrough seems to have taken an age.
But the Queenslander now has the distinction of being the youngest player in the world’s top 20 in a power-game era where the sport’s stars don’t peak until their late 20s.
“It’s not easy now with the players we have,” Tomic said.
“To be at the highest level, the top five, top 10 is not easy. I have to use these moments and appreciate them.
“But over the last two months of the year I have to go for it and try to push to the top 15.”
Tomic gained a first-hand insight into the gulf in class between men’s tennis’s grand slam contenders and pretenders on Sunday in a 7-5 6-3 6-2 loss to world No.3 and dual major champion Andy Murray.
The defeat not only ended Australia’s Davis Cup final hopes, but also humbled Tomic.
“Andy shows you that he’s there every point to play with you and this is why he’s been a top-three player for the last six, seven years,” Tomic said.
“For me, I have to get to that stage to stay with these guys, go deeper in points.
“I tried today but I couldn’t keep his level up. It shows that if I want to get top five in the world I’ll have to work hard.
“It just shows you that for me to get to his state of fitness I have to work hard because the biggest problem for me is fitness.”