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Bernard Tomic: Getting Stronger Each Year

Tomic© Getty ImagesTomic is addressing his movement this year in hopes of improving his speed around the court.

At this time last year, Bernard Tomic was ranked No. 185 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. He was playing his second full season on the ATP World Tour, working to translate his success as a two-time junior Grand Slam champion to the professional tennis world.

The Australian caught fire at Wimbledon, where as a 158th-ranked qualifier, defeated then World No. 5 Robin Soderling in straight sets en route to the quarter-finals, falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. The run propelled Tomic to No. 71, and he hasn’t looked back since then. caught up with the 19 year old at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships to discuss the physical challenges in competing on the ATP World Tour and his memorable comeback win over Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the Australian Open this past January.


What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between the junior circuit and the ATP World Tour in terms of the physical requirements it takes to keep up with your competition?
It’s so tough. A lot of the guys in the Top 100 have very good movement and are stronger. It’s hard as it’s very, very different. To make that transition, it was difficult for me, but I’ve managed to do it at a pretty young age. It’s pretty tough breaking through, but once you’re there and settled, it’s a little easier to hold your ranking and get points. It’s tough to break into the Top 100, but that’s where I got a lot of confidence in the juniors, being ranked No. 1 in the world.

How has the transition been for you since turning professional, and what changes in your conditioning have you noticed?
Every year, I’ve gotten stronger. The stronger I get, the better I play. I think the last year has been good for me strength wise, and that’s why I’ve played well.

What has been the most physically challenging aspect of the daily grind against players who are generally more experienced than you?
Movement wise, and playing long matches is tough for me. I don’t move as good as these players. I’m a bit taller and lack the movement they do. I have a longer reach, but sometimes in tennis, it works in your favour to be a better mover to get around the ball, than to be tall and long. So it can be difficult when you have a long body shape, so what I’ve learned the most is that I need speed in this game, so that’s what I’ve been working on recently.

Have there been any instances where you pushed too hard, and how did you learn from those experiences?
There’s been a lot of days when I’ve pushed too hard, but that’s important. You need to push hard to get through the tough days. That’s where you learn the most. You get a lot of confidence on those days. You become a better player, better aware of yourself. So the more days you push through, the better you feel when it comes time to play at a tournament.

Where do you think you still need to improve and what are you doing to tackle this?
Speed and more fitness time in the gym. I think I’ve improved a lot the last year, but hopefully in a year, I’ll be much better than I’m moving now.

What area of fitness do you think has contributed the greatest to your rise up the rankings the past 12 months?
I’d say my upper body strength. Because it’s become stronger, it’s allowed me to serve better. I’m getting a lot of free points which helps out. Being stronger with my upper body will allow me to generate more power, hit bigger, and ultimately hit more winners, which enables me to finish off points quicker.

Where does your victory over Verdasco in Melbourne rank on your list of biggest wins… and what role did your fitness play in putting you over the top against one of the more robust players on tour in extremely difficult conditions?
Yes, that was a very tough match. It was very difficult to play Fernando in those conditions. Being two sets to love down, against an accomplished player like that, it was tough to turn it around. I knew if I was able to turn it around, it was going to be one of the longest matches I’ve ever played. He’s one of the fittest guys out there, so to win that sort of match gave me a lot of confidence, and a lot of good experience that I can take with me in my career. Especially with future matches where I’m up two sets to love and a player comes back, I’ll know how to deal with it. The hardest thing is to come back from two sets down... I’ve managed to do it a few times in my career already, so hopefully I can keep at it when I’m in the situation again.

Which player’s physical prowess are you inspired by and what do you need to do to achieve a similar level?
Nadal, for his speed and fitness, and Novak, for his athleticism. All the top guys are great and they are there for a reason. Maybe one day I can be as good as them.

For our fans that play tennis regularly, what is an exercise or stretch you’d recommend they add to their training program?
It depends. I think it’s good to mix it up. Squats are very important for tennis. But you've got to find what’s right for you and your fitness level.

Which player on tour do you think…
Is the most flexible?
Novak Djokovic
Has the best footwork? Roger Federer
Has the greatest muscular endurance? Rafael Nadal
Is the quickest? Gael Monfils
Has the best balance? Novak Djokovic
Has the strongest core? Andy Murray

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