Controversy-generating Aussie Bernard Tomic upped his stock entering Monday’s start of the Australian Open, on Saturday winning his first career title at the Apia International Sydney in Australia.
Tomic, not a member of the Aussie Davis Cup team after earning the nickname “Tomic the Tank Engine” for some lackluster play in 2012, in the Sydney final outlasted giant-serving Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3 in a battle of unseeded players.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Tomic said. “Now that I know what it feels like to win a tournament and it’s the best feeling in the world. I’m so happy I won. To do it here in Sydney is awesome. I can’t ask for anything better. I’m so proud of myself. Can’t stop here now. Now I’ve got to look to the next tournament and keep playing the tennis I’ve been playing.”
Tomic won in his first career appearance in a final, while Anderson dropped to 2-2 in career finals. Tomic will return to the Top 50 on the ATP Rankings with the win.
Anderson double faulted on game point serving at 3-4 in the third set.
“I was lucky I got that double fault in the third set, because anything could have happened after that,” Tomic said. “I did play well off the ground. I served pretty good, but he was serving outstanding. Third set was epic. I think under pressure I played really good tennis.”
The Bryan brothers won their third Sydney title in the doubles final, with the top-seeded Americans defeating No. 4 Max “The Beast” Mirnyi/Horia Tecau 6-4, 6-4.
Aggie Radwanska won a thrill-less women’s title as the top seed rolled over unseeded Dominika Cibulkova, baking a double bagel 6-0, 6-0.
“I would like to say there was an injury, but there wasn’t,” Cibulkova said. “Actually I felt I could win every game I lost until 6-0, 1-0. But when I lost that 1-0 game, I just completely broke down and stopped thinking about what I had to do out there.”
It was the second title of 2013 in two weeks for Radwanska after winning Auckland. She improved to 12-4 in career finals, while Cibulkova fell to 2-5.
“In the beginning I think she wanted it too much, and maybe she was also a little bit nervous,” said Radwanska, who will remain at the No. 4 ranking. “This is tennis and this is sport, and sometimes things like this happen. But of course I feel bad.”
In contrast to Tomic’s first win, world No. 5 David Ferrer won his third straight Heineken Open title in Auckland, with the top seed defeating No. 2 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(5), 6-1.
“I’m really happy, because I did a new record for my career,” said Ferrer, who also won the Acapulco title three times in a row from 2010-12. “I think the first set was the key. He served to win the first set, but he didn’t take his chance.”
The Spaniard needed to come back from breaks twice in the first set, but when the German Kohlschreiber could not serve it out, the 30-year-old Ferrer toughed out the tiebreak then rolled in the second set. The 2008 Auckland winner Kohlschreiber fell to 4-4 in career finals.
“Twice, I was a break up and had a good opportunity to take the set,” Kohlschreiber said. “I played really well, but I think after winning the first set, he missed almost nothing. He returned everything and my level dropped a bit. It’s very tough to play against him.”
Unseeded Russian Elena Vesnina surprised No. 9 seed and defending champion Mona Barthel of Germany 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Moorilla Hobart International in Hobart, Australia, winning her first career title after going 0-6 in previous finals.
“I feel such relief right now,” Vesnina said. “Honestly I just want to cry. I was a little nervous before the final, but in general I felt good during the match. I just told myself, ‘This is my time — I just have to do it, and if I get a chance, take it.’ I didn’t feel any pressure. I enjoyed all the other finals I’ve been in, I just lost to really good players.”
Vesnina upended No. 4 seed Yaroslava Shvedova and No. 8 Sloane Stephens en route to the final, where she made an effort to be the aggressor.
“I was telling myself even if I hit double faults it’s okay, just don’t let her control the points,” she said. “Being aggressive the whole point was my plan for today, starting with the serve and return, but also from the groundstrokes and going to the net.”
Barthel fell to 1-1 in career finals.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
John Isner pulled from the Aussie Open with an injured knee, and is now a question mark for the U.S. vs. Brazil Davis Cup match on Feb. 1-3 in Jacksonville, Fla…Bernard Tomic after upsetting seed Florian Mayer in Sydney: “There is talk now that I’m serving really good and my groundstrokes are really good, too. I’m moving really well. There is nothing much more I can ask myself at this stage.” — What the hell does “there is talk” mean? Are you giving an update on the buzz in the locker room? The Tank Engine needs a life coach…Svetlana Kuznetsova after beating Caroline Wozniacki in the sweltering conditions in Sydney: “I think it shows you one more time how tough the tennis is right now. How players have to be fit to play in the hot conditions, the windy conditions. We’re like iron women almost.” According to a local weather reporter, last Monday was the “hottest day across Australia since records began.”…Ryan Harrison has hired former pro Tres Davis as his traveling coach to work alongside his father Pat…James Blake speaking to Men’s Journal about jet lag: “In 2001 I flew back from a tournament in Tokyo to play in my first Davis Cup match in North Carolina. I had three stairs in my room, and I woke up in the middle of the night. I ended up falling down them because I was so tired and had no idea what time it was or where I was. I ended up being fine and just needed more rest.”…Monaco natives and Davis Cup teammates Benjamin Balleret and Guillaume Couillard played a 70-point tiebreak at a Futures event in Plantation, Fla. Balleret said: “I remember having a lot more set points than Guillaume. I’m not certain how many, but recall we were both nervous and it wasn’t great tennis.”…The ATP is now allowing players to wear gambling company advertising on clothes, as long as the company does not deal in tennis wagering…Gael “Force” Monfils after being handed a time violation for toweling off too much between points: “I’m black so I sweat a lot.” — we find that offensive, because in our office we have numerous fat white guys who can also stain some shirts…Lleyton Hewitt says he wants to be the peacemaker (!?!) between Aussie Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter and Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic. Tomic said of Rafter and playing Davis Cup: “I spoke to him. I was very clear. I don’t think we’ll be in contact until September. From there, we’ll see. That’s all I can say.”…Serena and Venus Williams say they will play doubles in Melbourne…Jesse Levine jumped ship from the U.S. (where he was funded by the USTA — where’s the Alex Bogomolov-type we-want-our-investment-back from the USTA?) to Canada to play Davis Cup, but will have to sit out Canada’s February match against Spain since ITF rules stipulate that a player must go through a 90-day waiting period to switch nationalities…Sam Stosur writing for FOX Sports on her early days in tennis, and why prize money increases need to trickle down to the early rounds: “I remember sleeping on a train station floor in Japan when I was about 18 because a girl in our group didn’t want to pay for her hotel and we wouldn’t let her stay out on her own. We huddled together in front of the police station, had kids on bikes sing us songs and one guy bought us orange juice because he must have felt sorry for us. This is what it’s like when you just start out. You buy the cheapest flight, catch a train or the cheapest hotel room just to save money. There’s a few places and tournaments I never want to go back to.”…Five of the 13 U.S. women players in the Aussie Open qualifying draw won in first round play…NHL Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin announced his engagement to girlfriend Maria Kirilenko. What about Igor?..Andrea Petkovic is out of the Aussie Open with a knee injury…A spot is open on the ATP calendar as the tournament owned by Novak Djokovic’s family has been cancelled. The tournament, which was scheduled for April 29 to May 5, had problems attracting top players and sponsors…Lleyton Hewitt beat Juan Martin del Potro, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych to win the Kooyong exo title — save some of that for the real events…Russian Vera Zvonareva pulled from the Aussie Open due to a shoulder injury that has not sufficiently recovered…India’s Davis Cup players say they will skip their upcoming tie against North Korea if their federation makes them sign a conduct agreement…Multi-Slam winner and former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova had to play the qualifying in Sydney, where she successfully qualified…While the tennis powers are trying to reduce the time between points and speed up the game, Andy Murray says players should be given MORE time between points…33-year-old Cara Black won the WTA Auckland doubles title in her first event back after having a child…Late last year Forbes magazine published that out of the 10 highest-ranked tennis players, eight made more cash in off-court earnings and endorsements that on court.
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