Conceding it’s impossible to escape the hype, Bernard Tomic is relishing the prospect of a high-stakes US Open showdown with Nick Kyrgios.
A year after saving match point to deny Lleyton Hewitt in a five-set classic at Flushing Meadows, Tomic and Kyrgios – jousting for Australia’s top ranking – are slated to clash in the third round of the season’s final major.
“It could be an amazing match,” Tomic told AAP ahead of his testing opener with Damir Dzumhur, the Bosnian he beat in four tough sets in the first round last year.
“We’ve practised so many times in our life and the last year and played many, many practice sets – but never in a match.
“So for me it could be a really good opportunity. It’s an opportunity for one of us to take a fourth-round spot and, who knows, do some damage in this tournament.
“But it’s up to Nick and I to create this opportunity first.”
February’s Davis Cup feud firmly in the past, Tomic and Kyrgios have duelled not only on the tennis court this week.
“Me and Nick are very good friends. We are going to play basketball now with Gael (Monfils) and a few others,” Tomic said.
“We’re very close. I respect him as a tennis player and what he’s achieved so far and I’m sure he respects me.”
Tomic’s triumph over Hewitt – in the first all-Australian men’s match-up in New York in more than a decade – ended the former champion and world No.1’s US Open career.
It also thrust Tomic onto a path to the world’s top 20 for the first time and now the 23-year-old is hoping a first-time run to the second week in the Big Apple can lead to further milestones.
“I’ve been in the top 20 for the last year and it’s been going well, everything, but to get to the top 10, top five is a different level now,” Tomic said.
“It’s so, so tough. Players are ridiculous in the top 20 even.
“Now it’s a new step and I’m pushing for this new step for sure.
“I’m very close and I have to try and finish off the year strong. I know my game and my tennis belongs in the top 15, top 12.”
He proved it with back-to-back wins over David Goffin and world No.7 Kei Nishikori, the 2014 Open runner-up, in Cincinnati this month.
“I always beat guys like that but couldn’t back it up,” Tomic said.
“But that tournament for me in Cincinnati was good for me. I’m just happy that the last three, four weeks before this US Open has been pretty solid for me.”
Tomic, Kyrgios – who opens against Aljaz Bedene – along with John Millman and women’s trio Daria Gavrilova, grand slam debutant Ellen Perez and 2011 champion Samantha Stosur all play their first-round matches on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST).
James Duckworth, up against Dutchman Robin Haase, and Jordan Thompson, who plays Belgian Steve Darcis, are the only two Australians in action on day one.
AUSSIES IN US OPEN ACTION ON MONDAY (TUESDAY AEST)
Men’s singles, first round
James Duckworth v Robin Haase (NED)
Jordan Thompson v Steve Darcis (BEL)