Hot-headed Tomic fights for focus

TIPPED as a future superstar, Bernard Tomic admits he's struggling to maintain focus in the junior ranks of tennis.

Seemingly headed for an ugly defeat, an irritated Tomic pulled himself together after a mid-match dummy spit to progress to the quarter-finals of the US Open boys' championship yesterday (AEST) with a rollercoaster 4-6 6-1 6-2 win over Swede Tobias Blomgren.

The Gold Coast prodigy received a warning from the chair umpire for smashing his racquet into the back fence after blowing a 4-0 lead to drop the opening set.

But, as he had in his two previous rounds at Flushing Meadows, the third-seeded Tomic showed his class to rally for a three-set victory.

“I just lost a little bit of concentration and that's all it takes against these players who want to beat you and I think that's what I need to work on tomorrow,” Tomic said.

“When I get into the lead, I need to close it out. I would love to have closed out the first set, but things happen like this and I've got to learn and that's why I'm playing these matches now.”

Playing them reluctantly, apparently.

The talented 16-year-old had chosen to skip the tournament and instead contest some Challenger events as he tries to make a successful transition from the juniors to the professional ranks.

But he had a late change of heart, realising he needs to start winning consistently against juniors before taking on the big boys.

Tomic, though, concedes that's easier said than done and it's obvious at times he's bored on court toiling away against players he really should be cleaning up.

“It's a bit different. You go down to their level and you start playing their level and I don't execute my shots the way I do in the senior level,” Tomic said.

“If I find a way to win, it's good in the end.”

Tomic has now reached the quarter-finals or better at all four junior grand slam events.

Last year, at just 15, he became the youngest-ever junior grand slam champion when he won the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

“Last year here I had an early exit so to get to the quarters is really good,” he said. “But it's strange the way I got there. I've had some really strange matches.”



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