The dangerous threat to Tomic’s career comeback
FALLEN star Bernard Tomic faces a difficult start to his Australian Open qualifying campaign.
The 27-year-old is among 19 locals lining up in singles qualifying for the year's first grand slam at Melbourne Park, which begins Tuesday.
Tomic will face seventh seed American Denis Kudla, who he has played just once previously.
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The Queenslander won that clash - in Houston last year - in straight sets.
A fixture in the main draw for a decade since becoming the youngest player, at just 16 years old, to win a men's singles match at the Open in 2009, Tomic must win three sudden-death encounters to enter the season's first grand slam starting next Monday.
The one-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist was overlooked for a wildcard after falling out with Tennis Australia and Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.
TA on Monday handed their last two men's wildcards to Tomic's countrymen Alex Bolt, who reached the third round last year, and Andrew Harris, a former French Open and Wimbledon junior doubles champion.
Tomic is intent on rebuilding his career after spiralling to No.182 in the rankings following a season to forget in 2019.
The former junior prodigy and world No.17 recorded just seven wins at ATP level - none at the slams - and hasn't played since a first-round loss to Dan Evans in Stockholm in October.
Now guided by Turkey-based Australian coach Gavin Hopper, Tomic's miserable season was cut short after he suffered a freak hand injury playing basketball. After nine straight main-draw appearances, including three forays to the second week, Tomic will be contesting qualifying at the Open for the second time in three years.
He lost to Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the final round of qualifying in 2018 before unloading on Hewitt in a stunning attack after his first-round exit last year.
Tomic will be joined in the men's qualifying draw by compatriots Matt Ebden, Akira Santillan, Aleksander Vukic, Tristan Schoolkate, Rinky Hijikata, Harry Bourchier, Luke Saville, Blake Mott, Jason Kubler and Lorenzo Musetti. Ellen Perez, Jamie Fourlis, Abbie Myers, Olivia Rogowska, Belinda Woolcock, Ivana Popovic, Storm Sanders and Olivia Tjandramulia are all in the women's qualifying draw.
Australia is already guaranteed 18 players in the singles main draws, led by women's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty.