Australian Bernard Tomic has hit back at Roger Federer’s suggestion that he is a long way from being a top 10 player, saying the 17-time Grand Slam champion faces a quality deficit of his own as compared to world number one Novak Djokovic.
Outspoken Tomic reached the last 16 of the Australian Open for the third time by beating compatriot John Millman on Saturday, becoming the last surviving Australian man in the singles draw.
The 23-year-old has made something of a habit of shining at Melbourne Park before fading away over the rest of the season, a record that led Federer to suggest the world number 17 had missed his ambition of a top 10 berth by a “long shot”.
“Yeah, well, he has his predictions. I think he’s also far away from Djokovic as well if he wants to say that,” Tomic said after his third round victory.
“If he believes I’m very far away from the top 10, I also believe my prediction that he’s nowhere near Novak’s tennis right now.
“It also motivates me. I’m working for that. When I’m playing well, I’m a top-eight player in the world. My ranking has to get there,” Tomic said about his ambitions to crack the top 10 in the rankings.
Federer, who has not won a Grand Slam since 2012 and lost five of his eight matches against Djokovic last year, said in his comments in Brisbane earlier this month that Tomic needed to realise that the year contained 52 weeks, not just one.
Tomic said his ambitions went beyond joining the likes of Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori in the second rank of players behind the Grand Slam winners.
“I’m going to work every day this year getting to the top 10. It’s not just getting to the top 10. I’m going to get there,” Tomic added.
“It’s about staying there for a while. It’s about being consistent. These guys that have been there the last five, six years on the tour, you have Berdych, Ferrer, Nishikori that have been there for a while, they’re consistent.
“They’re there for four or five years. That’s what I want to become, and possibly be even better after I get there.”
Tomic will next face world number two Andy Murray as he looks to reach his first quarter-final at the Australian Open.
While it guarantees him another match on Rod Laver Arena, Tomic said the scrutiny he was under in his adopted home country made him uncomfortable.
“Since I was 18, my life changed in Australia. Personally I don’t like it. I try to keep most time for myself in Monaco,” the Germany-born Queenslander said.
“I’m hardly in Australia. It’s not always good going everywhere in Australia. There are people looking, ‘oh, I don’t like that person’. That’s why I spend most of my time in Monaco.”