Tomic warms up for Kyrgios clash, Slam with season-opening win

Melbourne (AFP) –


Bernard Tomic won his first competitive outing of the season Tuesday, beating American Jack Sock in a pre-Australian Open tune-up that will also see him take on fellow livewire Australian Nick Kyrgios.

In the opening match of the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne, 83rd-ranked Tomic -- who bounced back after on-and-off court issues to win his first ATP title since 2015 at Chengdu in September -- overcame Sock in three tight sets.

After beating Sock 5-7, 6-4, 10-6, Tomic is looking ahead to his clash on Wednesday against Kyrgios, who has also been struggling with form and motivation. The pair have never played on the ATP Tour.

"Nick and I have played many many times in practice, we're good friends. This will be our last opportunity to practise because in five days it's the Australian Open," Tomic said after putting in what he termed a decent performance against the 106th-ranked Sock.

The formerly troubled Tomic, who failed to qualify a year ago for the Open when he was ranked 142nd and apparently fed up with tennis, now seems to have settled down.

The same may not apply to Kyrgios, who finished his season in October through an elbow injury.

He has spent recent months at home in Canberra, playing basketball and doing charity work while speaking with mental health professionals in hopes of regaining the competitive spirit which once took him to 13th in the world

On Monday, he played in a Fast4 exhibition event in Sydney along with Rafael Nadal.

"I'm looking forward to playing Nick, for practice it's unbelievable. I've had some stuff I've had to work on during the last couple of weeks," Tomic said.

"Tomorrow's my last chance to do that -- hopefully Nick will take it (match) seriously."

Sock, who was ranked eighth in the world last January prior to a collapse in form, lost to Tomic on a drop shot gone wrong.

"I landed 24 hours ago so I didn't have a lot of expectations," he said. "It's the first outdoor match for me in a long time.

"Off-season I was indoors. Last season's singles was absolutely terrible, in doubles I had some fun.

"But that's 2018, it's 2019 now. I'm not stressing about it a lot. I know how well I can play and what I can get back to. I don't care what (ranking) number is in front of my name."