Bernard Tomic has set up an All-Australian clash in the last 32 at the Australian Open, defeating Italian Simone Bolelli in straight sets.
Tomic will meet fellow Queenslander John Millman in a Saturday special at Melbourne Park after overcoming a mid-match wobble to win 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 in three hours and one minute.
The 16th seed began at his clinical best before inviting Bolelli back into the match.
“It goes to show what can happen when you take your foot off the pedal,” Tomic said after his escape.
“It was a very difficult moment serving for the match … full credit to him.”
For two-and-a-half sets, there was little drama and no fuss from Tomic on Margaret Court Arena.
The world No.17 made life extremely difficult for his opponent, minimising his errors and hitting high notes on serve.
He didn’t offer up a sole break point in his first 13 service games, equalling a personal-best 25 aces for the match.
The Australian No.1 was patient and calculating when returning – as he displayed by triumphing in a 12-minute marathon for the match’s opening break.
But Bolelli, the world No.58, found a rhythm against Tomic to force and win a third-set tiebreak.
While Tomic has clearly added an improved athleticism to his disruptive style, little incidents appeared to derail his groove.
He was twice cruelled by the net when serving to force the third-set tiebreak, where he pulled his punches.
Bolelli required on-court treatment for a back ailment that curtailed his movement, but neither man could break the other in the fourth set until Tomic’s final blow in the 12th and last game of the match.
Tomic’s father John struggled to contain himself in the player’s box after his son blew a match point at 5-4.
But an hour after he should have ended the match, he did so on his second match point with a fine forehand down the line.
Tomic’s passage ensures there will be at least one Australian in the last 16.
The 23-year-old will have the chance to replicate his best Australian Open results and reach the fourth round, as he did 2012 and 2015.
Millman won through to the last 32 in contrasting fashion, outlasting Luxembourger Gilles Simon in five hard-fought sets.