Australian great Roy Emerson has backed Gold Coast teenager Bernard Tomic to win the Australian Open by the time he turns 21.
The ringing endorsement came as Emerson, who won the first of his six Australian Open titles 50 years ago, helped to launch next year’s tournament in Melbourne.
“Don’t count him out, I think he’s going to have a great performance,” Emerson said of fellow Queenslander Tomic.
“Maybe it’s a bit too early for him to win this year, but next year, or the year after that, I think he should be great.
“See how he develops in the next 12 months and if he can carry on what he’s shown this year, then he’ll get a lot of confidence and get a lot of respect from his opponents.”
Tomic, who turns 19 on October 21, is Australia’s highest-ranked man and the youngest player in the men’s top 100 at No.58.
In June, he became the youngest men’s Wimbledon quarter-finalist since German Boris Becker in 1985, taking a set off eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
Tomic also won a set from Roger Federer in Australia’s Davis Cup world group play-off defeat against Switzerland in Sydney last month.
“For the amount of experience he’s had I think he’s doing great,” Emerson said.
“I heard that Federer commented after he played him that it was very difficult for him to play against Tomic because he had trouble reading where he was hitting the ball. Also, Tomic played a terrific match against Djokovic at Wimbledon and got him in all sorts of trouble, so he has the ability to do well against the top players, which is good to know.
“The difficult one for him to play at the moment is when he is expected to beat somebody. It puts a bit more pressure on him.
“He’ll overcome that when he gets a little bit older.”
Emerson, a 12-time grand slam singles champion, believes Australia’s US Open winner Samantha Stosur has “been around long enough” to cope with the pressure to win a Major on home soil in January.
“Sam Stosur, I think, could win,” he said. “When you break through and you can win one, it’s amazing what it does for your confidence.
“She has the best serve of all the women in the game. Now she knows she can win a major and she knows how to prepare for it, there’s no reason why she can’t win quite a few more.”
Buford Balony says: I don’t think so, he needs to put some ice on his swollen head first.