Winning the Davis Cup is as important to Bernard Tomic as a grand slam title
BERNARD Tomic has declared Australia will beat Germany and return to its rightful place in the Davis Cup World Group when the two nations meet this year in a playoff tie in Hamburg.
Tomic, Australia's leading men's player, told The Weekend Australian Magazine that winning the Davis Cup now ranked as highly on his list of career goals as winning a major tournament. Tomic said he wanted to emulate Lleyton Hewitt by producing his best in Davis Cup.
"As much as I want to win a slam, I want to win for Australia as a team in the next two to three years," Tomic said.
"I hope Lleyton plays the next Davis Cup tie in Germany. I think he will. I need him there on my side to beat these boys. This is our chance. Last year we went down by a game at nightfall to get back into the group. Everyone in the team knows we belong in the World Group and this is our spot, even if it is on clay, to get back and to win."
Hewitt brought forward his scheduled return from radical foot surgery by a month to play at least one match on the red clay of Roland Garros, in part as preparation for the tie against Germany in September. Notwithstanding further injuries, he is a certain starter in Hamburg, where the German team will rely heavily on its top-ranked singles player Florian Mayer.
Tomic said he had embraced previous criticism from Australia captain Pat Rafter and coach Tony Roche about needing to work harder when in Davis Cup camp. Former Davis Cup coach Todd Woodbridge said it also was part of Rafter's job to tailor his approach to Tomic.
"It has always been that way," Woodbridge said. "The captain's role is to get the best players on the court, the best team for Australia, to get a victory. The team revolves around who the best player to get on the court is."
Tomic said Australia's Davis Cup prospects would continue to build as Matt Ebden moved into the world's top 50 and Marinko Matosevic, who is ranked inside the top 100, kept improving.
"Lleyton has won those slams but he has told me that Davis Cup, when it has come along for him, he has played almost two times better than he has ever played," Tomic said. "I want to play my best tennis in the Davis Cup. I have got those boys and the team pushing me. You are not going to win a Davis Cup on your own. You need a team of people and you need the captain there and you need the right choices of who is playing.
"I think we have got a great shot in September. I think we are going to win. We are going to beat them to get back into the World Group."
Having negotiated his first full season on the clay courts of Europe and improved his world ranking to inside the best 30 players, Tomic is entering the most intense phase of the tennis year. Next Monday he will return to Wimbledon, where his dramatic run through to last year's quarter-final against eventual winner Novak Djokovic announced his arrival as the most prodigious young talent. Then it is on to the Olympics, the US Open and Hamburg -- all within three months.
Tomic defaulted his first match of the grass-court season this week because of injury, but his camp said it was nothing more serious than a case of stomach cramps and he would take his place in next week's draw at Eastbourne to complete his Wimbledon preparation.
Tomic says he has changed his attitude since the loss to Switzerland in Sydney last September, after which Rafter criticised him for his poor work ethic. And Rafter has since changed his assessment of Tomic.
"I love having him there," he said of Rafter. "He is a great champion. He is someone I looked up to growing up. He had things to say and I agree with that. You take his advice to be better next time."