Party boy Bernard Tomic ready to knuckle down for Australian Open
Published: December 4, 2013 - 3:00AM
His extended 21st birthday celebrations finally over, night owl Bernard Tomic has declared himself ready to submit to the daily discipline of a pre-season under new co-coach Velimir Zovko, who has arrived in Melbourne to help prepare the world No.51 for a new year that will start with a recycled goal: a place among the top 20.
Zovko, 46, was hired by Tomic's father, John, for the duration of Tomic senior's tournament suspension, which expires in May. Bernard said Zovko's Croatian background had been an attraction, and the dual-coach arrangement an experiment he was happy to try over the next six months.
''Obviously he's from Croatia, he speaks my language, and it's very important for me to have a good communication, someone that understands me, my background, because it's not easy - I'm a difficult sort of guy,'' Tomic said.
''Obviously my dad's gonna be still involved; I'll sort of have two coaches and they're gonna work through it with me until my dad's ban [ends] in May. Until then, I'm going to try with this new coach, with my dad on his side, both of them helping. I know not many players have two coaches, it's something new for me, but I'm gonna try and see how that goes, and then we'll see how it unfolds after May. If not, [I can] go back to my own formula.''
Given that John Tomic, who has driven his son's career for its colourful duration, recently described Zovko's role as being to act as his ''extended arm'', the news of the appointment was greeted with some resignation - although not great surprise - by those in Australian tennis who had hoped for a more independent voice.
Bernard Tomic said he did not expect to receive conflicting messages. ''This guy [Zelko] will be more there on court, spending more hours with me, my dad will sort of be less, but obviously my dad knows me best, and if he sees something that's obviously wrong or mistaken then they'll have a talk about it outside of tennis … so that's understood between them, and they are ready to take on the role.''
And the appeal of Zelko, in particular? ''From what I've heard, he's disciplined, it's something what I need, and it's obviously something new. I'm looking forward. I can't say what he can bring, but obviously I'm going to pick it up throughout the weeks as they go by and hopefully it can work out. I think it's important for me to [knuckle] down and work hard this time now, and get myself playing well in January, like I always do,'' Tomic said.
Tomic said he had considered the open invitation from Davis Cup coach Tony Roche to join the demanding off-season program on Lleyton Hewitt's home court in Sydney, but the need had been obviated by his family's recent move to Melbourne and access to the impressive National Tennis Centre facility, where he will prepare for the Hopman Cup and defence of his Sydney International title before the Australian Open.
After that, the challenge will continue to replicate his regular domestic form overseas, and the ''reasonable'' aim of a slot in the top 20 remains his 2014 focus. ''It's tough, but I've gotta put my head down,'' said the former No.27, whose stretch on the party circuit was revealingly captured on social media.
''I had fun. Obviously I celebrated my 21st … I'm gonna train now and see how I go. I'm ready to go. I always train well before Aussie, everyone knows that, so it's the important thing to play well after, which I'll be ready this year. I'm young, so I'm learning. Ups and downs.''