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Reigning world-number one Novak Djokovic has paid praise to Bernard Tomic – who has taken the mantle from Lleyton Hewitt as the Australia’s next great hope. The 19-year old will get his Australian Open campaign under way with a bit of a stinker of a first-round tie, with big-hitting Spaniard Fernando Verdasco awaiting the Aussie in his Grand Slam live tennis of the year in Melbourne.

Tomic gave the home fans plenty of cause for optimism during last year’s competition, when the youngster impressed on his way to a brave third round defeat to Rafael Nadal, who was world-number one at the time. There are plenty of patriotic tennis betting offers for Aussie punters backing their home player.

Djokovic tore that ranking from the Spaniard soon after his victory in the final later that month,however, and the Serb has now come out hailing Tomic, praising both the youngster’s attitude and his talent.

Djokovic saw close up just what Tomic is capable of, during their four-setter in the quarter-finals of last year’s Wimbledon; where he was suitably impressed by the man who will go into this year’s opening Grand Slam with the hopes of a nation aboard his young shoulders.

“He has so much talent, and he doesn't use that much of his strength, he uses the pace of his opponent, and it's really difficult to get any rhythm with him,” said Djokovic.

“He's a big boy, he has a big serve, and he's very stable emotionally on the court; for someone of his age you don't get to expect that, but he handles himself very well.”

While Verdasco has recently dropped out of the world’s top-10, falling down to 24th following injury and loss of form, the Spaniard is still a real threat to Tomic in their opening round tie and the young Aussie will need to be at his best if he is to avoid an early exit at Melbourne Park this time around.
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