Bernard Tomic has progressed to the second round of the Australian Open in dramatic circumstances that have left the tennis world stunned.
The controversial Aussie secured safe passage to the next round at Melbourne Park with a walkover against Japan's Yuichi Sugita.
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Urged on by his "coach" - Love Island love interest Vanessa Sierra - Tomic fought back from a set down and had the ascendancy when Sugita took a medical time-out in the third.
Tomic's Japanese opponent carried on for two more games but could not complete the match.
The Aussie was leading 3-6 6-1 4-1 when Sugita's retirement gifted him a ticket into the next round.
Incredibly, it was the 23rd time Tomic has been involved in a match that his involved a player's retirement.
Perhaps more remarkably, it is only the second time the man often dubbed 'Tomic the Tank Engine', has not been the player to withdraw.
The incredible statistic and the sense of irony in Tomic's first round victory at Melbourne Park was not lost on the tennis world.
Forget about anything involving Tom Brady - this is the best stat that you will hear today.
Today was the 23rd match Bernard Tomic has been involved in that ended in retirement. It was only the 2nd time that the retiree wasn’t him. #ausopen
— NedsAU (@NedsAus) February 8, 2021
That's a crazy stat about Bernard Tomic, 23rd time he's been involved in a match that has ended with a player retiring hurt and only the 2nd time it wasn't him. #AusOpen
— Nathan Watson 🇦🇺 (@N_Watson_) February 8, 2021
Loving the reactions to Bernard Tomic making the second round. People are disbelieving and then laughing it was a walkover and it wasn't him. Have to love he is still on the circuit. #AusOpen
— Terry Firma (@Terryfirma) February 8, 2021
From the #AusOpen broadcast: this is the 23rd time a Bernard Tomic match has been decided by a retirement - but only the second time that has resulted in him winning.
— Max Laughton (@maxlaughton) February 8, 2021
What kind of alternate universe are we living in when Bernard Tomic’s opponent retires hurt? #AusOpen
— Cameron Bell (@CameronBell) February 8, 2021
Bernard Tomic is through to the second round of the Australian Open via walkover after Yuichi Sugita retired due to injury in the third set, 3-6 6-1 4-1 ret.
He'll face the winner of Denis Shapovalov and Jannik Sinner on Wednesday.#AO2021 #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/ala7KaKXJn
— Sporting News Australia (@sportingnewsau) February 8, 2021
This is Bernard Tomic’s first second round appearance at a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2018, and just his second since the 2017 #AusOpen
— Val Febbo (@VFebbo96) February 8, 2021
Ex-coach’s big warning for Tomic
Tomic's win came after his former coach issued the former world no.17 a directive to take it seriously, or go home for good.
Geoff Masters, who coached Tomic during his stint at the Queensland Academy of Sport and earlier in his professional career, says Tomic’s fortunes have never been a question of talent, but desire.
Tomic exploded onto the scene as an 18-year-old when he made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2011, but despite being ranked inside the top 20 as recently as 2016, Tomic’s career is running on fumes.
Since those early peaks, Tomic has been mired in a series of off-court scandals that culminated in his effective excommunication from Tennis Australia amid an ongoing dispute with Lleyton Hewitt.
With Tomic now vowing to play on until age 35, Masters said his success would hinge on his drive to win, rather than his skill at the sport.
“Bernard’s success or otherwise is totally on Bernard,” Masters told the Herald Sun.
“He’s always had the hands and always had the skill – but it’s a matter of how badly he wants to play.
“There’s no getting away from the fact in more recent years he hasn’t displayed that joy of the sport or desire to play, and the result of that’s been some coverage in places like Wimbledon that hasn’t been pleasant for him.
“If he wants to play, there’s no reason he can’t get back.
“But if he doesn’t really want to, then go do something else, because you’re deluding yourself and wasting your time.”
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