The world top 10 is so close Bernard Tomic can almost touch it.
The Australian’s goal for 2016 after a breakout 2015 is to finally break into the world’s tennis elite.
On Friday, Tomic showed that ambition isn’t far fetched with an upset win over world No.8 Kei Nishikori to reach the semi-finals of the Brisbane International.
The seventh seed will now face Canadian Milos Raonic in a semi-final on Saturday after the big-serving fourth seed defeated France’s Lucas Pouille 6-4 6-4 earlier in the day.
Tomic’s 6-3 1-6 6-3 victory over the 2014 US Open finalist was significant on two levels for the Queenslander.
It’s just the seventh time in his career Tomic has beaten a current top-10 player, and also means he has all but sewn up a top-16 seeding for the Australian Open.
Victory means Tomic is projected to climb to 17th on the ATP rankings following Feliciano Lopez’s first-round exit in Doha and world No.9 Richard Gasquet won’t be playing in Melbourne due to a shoulder injury.
“Obviously this win is huge,” Tomic said.
“Now I’m at the level the last few months of being in the top 20 and playing these players that have been consistently in the top 10, five in the world.
“It’s a huge, huge feeling to play (them), and it motivates you. That’s what I needed. I needed match wins against these high-profile players around the world.
“Every match you win against a player like this is just confidence for myself, and step by step I’m achieving my goal this year.
“Being in the top 10. It’s near. If I keep playing the way I’m playing there is a chance.”
If, as expected, Tomic secures a top-16 seeding for the opening grand slam of the year, it’ll ensure he cannot face a top player such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray until at least the second week of the tournament.
Victory over Nishikori, who Tomic hadn’t even taken a set off in their past two meetings, has given him the belief he can make an impression at Melbourne Park and his 2015 form was no flash in the pan.
“It’s amazing what he’s achieved in his career so early, Kei, and maybe one day I will have the opportunity to match that, what he’s achieved,” he said.
“This match was very important to win and see where my level was at.
“I’m feeling very confident on court. Last year gave me a huge boost of confidence, so I’m happy to be playing here in Brisbane and playing this well.”