Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has revealed why Bernard Tomic missed out on a qualifying wildcard for the grand slam.
Despite a rankings rebound of sorts, in which Tomic rose from world No. 825 to No. 462 in the past 12 months, the 30-year-old Queenslander was overlooked for a wildcard in favour of a series of youngsters ranked below him.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Tiley explained the range of factors that contributed to the decision.
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“Our team that looks at the decision has a team of people that looks at the decision of wildcards,” Tiley said.
“(They look at) the player coming in, the strength of their play, what events they’ve been playing, how much they’ve been playing, are they the younger part of our future generation. There’s many factors that go into it.”
Tiley said the major reason for the Tomic snub was the rising number of promising Aussie youngsters all vying to take part in qualifying.
“One thing that’s great is we’ve got a new problem – we’ve got a lot more Australian players to choose from, and that’s a great problem to have,” he said.
19-year-old’s James McCabe (No. 406) and Philip Sekulic (No. 543), 18-year-old’s Derek Pham (No. 1017), Jeremy Jin (No. 990), Edward Winter (No. 672) and American Bruno Kuzuhara (No. 636), who won the Australia Open boys title last year, all earned qualifying wildcards ahead of Tomic.
They’ll be joined by 21-year-olds Dane Sweeny (No. 249) and Tristan Schoolkate (No. 367) and 23-year-old Adam Walton (No. 432) in qualifying, which runs from the January 9-12 at Melbourne Park.
Tomic, who reportedly didn’t apply for a wildcard but could still have been awarded one, told First Serve he would use the snub as motivation.
“I’m not expecting any favours. I’m going to prove my point and earn my way,” Tomic said on his way to Doha.
“I understand Tennis Australia has made their decision. It’s good to see the young tennis players getting an opportunity.
“I’m at a place in my life where I don’t complain anymore. I’m focused and I’ve been training hard.
“I’ll let my tennis do the talking. Last quarter of 2022, I won three tournaments and made four finals.
“This year is my year, if no one is going to help support me, I’ll get back to top 100 on my own.
“My headspace is very different. I’m in a positive environment, good people around me, I’m in a healthy, happy relationship.
“Now all there is to do, is get back to where I belong.”
It’s hardly surprising Tennis Australia have been looking to distance themselves from the former World No. 17 after he blasted Australian legend, Davis Cup captain and one of the key wildcard judges Lleyton Hewitt.
“No one likes him any more,” Tomic said after a first-round Open exit in 2019.
“We have a lot of issues that not a lot of players are happy about. We all know who those players are. Myself, (Thanasi) Kokkinakis, (Nick) Kyrgios.”
Last season he said he’d “win Wimbledon” before the end of his career despite having lost in straight sets in qualifying to then-World No. 146 Roman Safiullin 6-1 6-4.
Tiley slams Aussie Open move calls
Meanwhile, Tiley has shot down suggestions the Australian Open should be moved from its January date in order to avoid the brutal heat of the Aussie summer.
In the wake of a number of high-profile withdrawals from this year’s tournament, calls emerged for the tournament to be moved in the interest of player welfare.
“I did read that (report), I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, a bizarre claim,” Tiley said.
“You talk to every player, this is the season. It starts in January. It starts here in Australia.
“It finishes with Davis Cup late on the men’s side and not as late on the women’s side but I do think it’s a long season. We’ve been talking about that for a long time.
“But Australia is the summer, Australia is January and this event is — from the players’ perspective — one of their favourite places to play.
“They’re coming here earlier, we’re now seeing players here for six weeks, for seven weeks and the preparation for the Australian summer is very normalised. They know what they need to do.”
The Australian Open kicks off on January 16 and runs until January 29 in Melbourne.