This trans-generational, all-Aussie clash is undoubtedly the most anticipated of the remaining second-round matches in Flushing Meadows. Young, brash baseliner in the upward arc of his career versus fiery veteran and multi-Slam champ appearing in his final US Open. Mentee vs. mentor. It’s a wonder these two have never faced off on the ATP Tour, although Hewitt, 34, is more than familiar with his 22-year-old foe’s game, having served as an advisor to the still-maturing Tomic, who’s had his fair share of off-court troubles.
“I get along great with Bernie. Helped him out a lot,” said Hewitt, who’s making his 15th appearance in New York in 16 years. “Bernie and I have got a really good relationship. He trusts me a lot. [But] I don't like playing any of the Aussies.”
As Hewitt, the 2001 US Open champion, showed us in his opening-round win over Kazakh Aleksandr Nedovyesov, despite his No. 355 ranking he can still cover the baseline with the best of ‘em. And he’s never let go of that fiery, me-against-the-world drive that carried him to No. 1 for 80 weeks.
“He will be remembered as being just a fantastic competitor,” Andy Murray recently observed of Hewitt. “He hated to lose.”
Tomic, the top ranked Australian man, is a bit of an enigma. As compatriot Sam Groth recently asserted, “He's an interesting character, Bernie. Never know what you're going to get.” And that says it all for this match. If the wickedly talented 6-foot-5, 200-pounder comes out firing on all cylinders, he’ll be tough to beat. But if his head isn’t on straight, if the idea of facing one of his nation’s all-time greats overwhelms him, he could go out in straight sets. Either way, it’ll be interesting.