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Teen Tomic for men's tennis

sports Updated: Jun 28, 2011 00:43 IST

Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic extended his fairytale run at Wimbledon into the quarter-finals after crushing Belgium's Xavier Malisse 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in the fourth round on Monday.

He is the first 18-year-old to reach the last 16 here since Michael Chang in 1990 and he is six years younger than anyone else still standing.

Tomic, born in Stuttgart and raised on Australia's Gold Coast, is of Croatian descent and his tennis is a throwback to the kind the great Australians of the past would be proud of. At 6ft 4in he has a big serve but he can also change the pace and has the priceless knack of making his opponents uncomfortable.

He has been talked of as a future great since he won the junior title at the Australian Open at 15. Three years on he is into the fourth round at Wimbledon and he is already assured of a place in the top 100. The youngsters are not just coming. They are here.

Now Tomic, ranked 158th in the world, can look forward to his first Grand Slam quarter-final after demolishing world number 42 Malisse in one hour and 21 minutes.

If his win over Robin Soderling in the third round was tempered by suggestions that the Swede was suffering with a stomach upset, his victory over Nikolay Davydenko in the first round was a classy effort. But he nearly didn't make it to Wimbledon after coming within five points of losing his first match in the qualifying event.

This was a far more emphatic victory. Malisse, 30, reached the semi-finals at the All England Club in 2002, but it was Tomic who made a red-hot start on the sun-baked Court 18.

Tomic said the key to his progress had been playing his natural game, forcing himself to abandon a more defensive approach that had brought success in the junior ranks.

"Now I've found my game, where I need it to be, and that's to have fun, relax out there, not play under pressure where as opposed to maybe six months ago I was playing a little bit more defensive," he said.