Bernard Tomic has evoked memories of mentor and Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt with a spirited three-set win over Gilles Muller to reach the Queen’s Club semi-finals.
Like two-time grand slam champion Hewitt did countless times en route to his four Queen’s titles, Tomic dug deep and threw himself around the iconic centre court to turn the tables on a tricky customer he’d never beaten at tour level.
The 23-year-old Australian was fired up and vocal as he downed the world No.18 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-2 on Friday to set up a clash with Canadian third seed Milos Raonic for a spot in Sunday’s final.
The match was typified by two points early in the third set, firstly when Tomic recovered after slipping over on the wet grass to force an error and snatch a break in the opening game.
Tomic then launched himself to hit an impressive full-stretch forehand volley winner which left him lying on his belly in the middle of centre court – but had Hewitt and the centre court crowd applauding.
He will on Saturday face Raonic after the Canadian world No.9, who toppled Australian young gun Nick Kyrgios in the first round, sent down 19 aces to blitz Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-4 in 60 minutes.
Tomic and Mulelr traded quick service games in the opening set, with only Tomic coming close to earning a break having squandered three set point opportunities when up 5-4 on Muller’s serve.
By this point rain had started to sprinkle on centre court and while two ball girls slipped over on the grass Tomic and Muller were able to power through to the tiebreak.
Tomic gave up the opening point and angrily urged himself to “wake up” – which he did, capitalising on uncharacteristic Muller errors to grab the set.
The second set produced more of the same, with neither able to crack their opponent’s serve – in a match which had 26 aces to Muller and 15 to Tomic – until the crucial 10th game when the Australian cracked, giving Muller the crucial break at his first opportunity.
Unshaken, Tomic recovered and began the final set aggressively throwing himself around the court as he raced to a decisive 4-0 lead before closing out the match in one hour and 33 minutes.