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Wimbledon 2011: Pat Cash and Mark Woodforde on Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

Teenager Tomic stuns Soderling in third round (UK only)

Australian teenager Bernard Tomic has caused a sensation at this year's Wimbledon Championships with an exhilarating run to the quarter-finals.

The 18-year-old has knocked out 29th seed Nikolay Davydenko and fifth seed Robin Soderling thus far and now faces the daunting task of taking on world number two Novak Djokovic, who Tomic admits annihilated him in a practice match prior to Wimbledon.

Only Boris Becker, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg have made the last eight at a younger age than Tomic and he is the first qualifier since Vladimir Voltchkov in 2000 to reach this stage.

Here a pair of legendary Australian tennis players, 1987 Wimbledon winner Pat Cash and six-time Wimbledon men's doubles champion Mark Woodforde, give their opinions on the great new hope of Australian tennis.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST SEE TOMIC PLAY?

PAT CASH
He came to my academy as a 13-year-old and he played differently back then. He was very, very accurate with his shots. I've seen a lot of good kids and I played against Nadal when he was 14. I could tell Bernard was never going to be like Rafa, but then who is? He was always going to be a good player, but it is still too early to say how good.

WHO IS BERNARD TOMIC?
Age: 18
Nationality: Australian (born in Stuttgart, Germany)
Turned pro: 2008
Coach is dad, John
Current world ranking: 158
Won 2008 Junior Australian Open title and 2009 Junior US Open title
Total Grand Slams played: 10
Career prize money won: $301,665

MARK WOODFORDE
I first saw him a couple of years ago when he won the Junior Australian Open title in 2008. But it was earlier this year at a Challenger event against other Australian players, ranked around the 140-250 mark, that I got a really good look at him and worked out his game.

What I could see is that he always believed he is good, he had that confidence over the other Australians. He knows he is better than them, Lleyton Hewitt aside, and it's not that he is arrogant, he just knows at his age he has a better game.

ARE YOU SURPRISED WITH HOW WELL HE HAS DONE AT WIMBLEDON?

PAT CASH
It has been a surprise for him to get this far. But if you look at some of the players he has had to play, Soderling was ill and then he had a great draw in the first round against Davydenko, a player who hates grass.

You've still got to beat these guys and the match against Soderling was a fantastic win. We haven't really seen him tested, but he loves playing in the big occasions, so will enjoy his opportunity against Novak Djokovic.

MARK WOODFORDE
Yes it is a surprise as nothing leading up to Wimbledon gave a clue that he was going to strike it hot here. I've decided to stop predicting what Bernie is going to do, because I didn't think he would beat Davydenko and quite honestly, I thought the match with Soderling was going to be more of a gauge of where Bernard is this year rather than a straight sets victory.

If you look at the stats - he is winning those games because he is serving more aces, hitting less unforced errors and hitting more winners, so he fully deserves to be in the quarter-finals.

HE PRACTISES A LOT WITH NOVAK DJOKOVIC - HOW MUCH WILL THIS HELP HIM?

PAT CASH
It it such an advantage that he has practised so much with Novak. You get a unique insight of how the world number two plays, so he can have only have learned from that. I think he has a real shot at giving it a real run. I'm not sure whether he will win but he could take a set or even two.

I don't think Novak is playing that well and doesn't seem at his best. He has played tentatively and looks quite nervy. It has been a huge season for him and it looks like he needs a few weeks off as he doesn't seem to quite have the fire in him.

MARK WOODFORDE
What an advantage this is. Bernard got whipped by him in a practice match, but he has nothing to lose as it's the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Novak's the one who has to maintain his superiority over someone as young as Bernard.

WHAT MUST HE DO TO BEAT DJOKOVIC?

PAT CASH
Once Novak gets into a rhythm he is tough to beat. You need to mix the play up and Bernard does that, especially on his serve. He has to take his opportunities and when he sees a short ball he has got to line up and go for it.

I think it is a bit too big of an ask for him to win, but is he capable of winning a set, definitely.

Mark Woodforde

He isn't quick or fast so he doesn't want to start running. Once he gets on the run there is only going to be one winner and that is Novak. He must get the first hit in. He can do that as he hits a great backhand down the line that is a world-class shot, so he will need to lean on that.

MARK WOODFORDE
This will be much more of a revelation about his standing in the men's game. Djokovic may get very tired against him, but I think it is a bit too big of an ask for him to win, but is he capable of winning a set, definitely.

IS HE GOOD ENOUGH TO REACH THE WORLD'S TOP 10?

PAT CASH
Maybe, but I'm not sure you can ever predict what players are destined for. He has got a very good all-round game but he needs to work on his volleying and he is always going to struggle with his movement.

He is lanky and not that quick, but then neither is world number five Soderling. He is still growing and can probably improve that in the next year or two. What isn't in doubt is that he loves the big occasion so he is always going to be a giant-killer.

MARK WOODFORDE
He will find his niche in world tennis, but he still has some growing to do and also some growing up. I'm not into predicting whether a player is going to be top 10 or top 30 because I think everyone can actually achieve that, it's just having the self-belief, and it is there for him.

But he is still gangly around the court. He is not a super smooth mover and if he plays a grass court player who knows a bit about the surface they will be able to find weaknesses in him. Learning to adapt to opposition is important.

HOW IMPORTANT IS HE TO AUSTRALIAN TENNIS?

PAT CASH
We don't have many top players as we are a very small tennis nation really, despite our history. It's great for Australian tennis that we have have him.

MARK WOODFORDE
He is big for Australian tennis. We have such a yearning for our next champion. The Australian public have been given notice about him over the last few years and they have had enough of us talking about Bernard, it's great that his tennis is now doing the talking for him.

IS HE UNDER AS MUCH SCRUTINY FROM THE AUSTRALIAN PRESS AND PUBLIC AS ANDY MURRAY GETS OVER HERE?

PAT CASH
It's not far off the press attention Murray gets. Bernard has had a very chequered run up to now as his father has created a lot of talking points, and so has he.

He has had some very controversial talking points so early in his career that needs to now be settled down. There has been a lot of negative stuff to write about and there will be probably be more to come, but he has got to get on with winning tennis matches.

MARK WOODFORDE
I like that he has been restrained and hasn't opened the doors and said "I will speak to everyone". He has been very cautious in that respect. He trusts his father immensely and they work in close circles. I haven't had a lot to do with them but I run an event in Adelaide that I invited them to and Bernard was absolutely terrific.

Being around Leyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter in the Davis Cup next month will be huge for him as his father will not be allowed to be there so it will be a good mix for him.


Pat and Mark were talking to BBC Sport's Paul Birch



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see also
Murray ready for Lopez challenge
29 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Tomic extends dream Wimbledon run
27 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Soderling loses to teenager Tomic
25 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Nadal overcomes Tomic challenge
22 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Men's singles results
21 May 10 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis


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