Tomic ready to start Open assault

TENNIS

Leonardo Mayer may need to morph into Roger Federer or Andy Murray to have any hope of stopping the Bernard Tomic express at the Australian Open tonight.

Federer and Murray, the Open's second and third seeds and winners of the past two grand slam singles titles and Olympic gold, are the only players in Tomic's past 24 matches Down Under to take down the 20-year-old.

Federer trumped Tomic in the fourth round in Melbourne last year, just 10 days after Murray had the Queenslander's measure in the semi-finals in Brisbane.

Tomic's remarkable run stretches back to Australia's loss to Switzerland in a Davis Cup World Group play-off in September 2011.

Federer also accounted for Tomic in that Cup tie, but Tomic has since been on a tear in front of home fans, racking up wins all over the country.

Tomic's breakthrough title in Sydney on Saturday has sent the 20-year-old rocketing up the world rankings, from 64 to 43.

He leapfrogged Marinko Matosevic yesterday to regain his status as Australian No 1 and is a raging $1.06 favourite to continue his run with victory over Mayer at Melbourne Park.

In 2008, a 15-year-old Tomic became the youngest player in history to win the Australian Open junior title.

The following year he beat Italian Potito Starace to become the youngest player to win a men's main-draw singles match at Melbourne Park.

"It's such a great privilege playing in Australia," he said.

"The fans support you. This is where I play my best tennis.

"I'm going to use it here and hopefully the crowd can get behind me a lot and support me throughout my matches.

"That's when I'll play better and better."

Federer once again looms large as Tomic's third-round foe and the two crossed paths at Melbourne Park yesterday.

They shook hands but the odds are they will meet again on Saturday - then pleasantries won't last much longer than a five-minute warm-up. AAP

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