Bernard Tomic has moved through to the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International, withstanding an admirable challenge from fellow Australian young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Tomic’s encouraging start to 2015 continued with the 7-6 (2) 6-1 victory over the Adelaide-born teenage sensation on Wednesday night on Pat Rafter Arena.
The 22-year-old dealt well with Kokkinakis’s lethal forehand and managed to grind down his compatriot.
Kokkinakis will be a frightening prospect when he fills out his 196cm frame – but, for now, suggestions he is ready to overtake Tomic in the Australian pecking order are premature.
“It felt like a lot was on me tonight,” Tomic said.
“I had to step up and prove obviously the experience and all the knowledge I had, the past few years, against Thanasi and put that into play.
“It’s not easy for me because he’s playing tough tennis. But I felt like I played the right tennis.”
Tomic will meet Japanese second seed Kei Nishikori, who accounted for American Steve Johnson in straight sets earlier in the day.
On this evidence, Nishikori will be given a real run for his money by a visibly fitter and mentally rejuvenated Tomic.
With Australian great Rod Laver watching on from the sidelines, there was precious little separating the pair in a tight and entertaining first set that went the distance.
Both held their serve throughout, and although Kokkinakis did it a fraction more comfortably, it was Tomic who took command in the tiebreaker to draw first blood.
His experience shone through in the second set when he took advantage of some sloppy errors from the 18-year-old, who fell away badly late on, to take the first break of the match, before wrapping up the set in just 26 minutes.
Kokkanakis will shift his attention to the Sydney International once his doubles commitments in Brisbane are complete.
“Obviously, (Tomic) is playing pretty well right now,” Kokkinakis said.
“I just thought I had my chances and I didn’t take them. I didn’t serve great in the second set and then he was able to dictate.
“I know against a good server, those (chances) can make the difference in a match.”