''IT'S about time, eh?''
And with those words, Bernard Tomic summed up the thoughts of a nation. The 20-year-old overcame bouts of dizziness and blurred vision in his Sydney International semi-final to progress through to his first ATP tour final.
Not since Roger Federer in 2002 has a 20-year-old won the title in Sydney. Having continued his giant-killing summer streak with a 7-6 (12-10), 6-4 win against third seed Andreas Seppi on Friday, the only thing standing between Tomic and the right to join illustrious company is big-serving South African Kevin Anderson.
''It's about time I got to one of these finals,'' Tomic said. ''I've had a few tournaments where I've had quarter-finals in the past year, but lost in tight matches. To do it here is a great privilege and honour here in Australia. It's going to be a huge final and I'm going to give my heart out there to win.''
Tomic was heard during the match saying ''I can't see'' and ''I feel dizzy'', and had to take painkillers and put on a hat after the first set to reduce the effects of a sweltering afternoon in Sydney's west.
The on-court temperature hovered close to 40 degrees for most of the match, but Tomic pushed past the pain barrier to become the first Australian since Chris Guccione in 2008 to reach the final of the event.
''It was obviously really hot but it wasn't the heat that was affecting me, it was the dizziness,'' Tomic said. ''I got this problem in the off-season and it's when I eat too close to when I play. I just felt I ate 30-40 minutes prior to the match and that was too soon. Should've gave it at least an hour and a half, but lucky it went away.''
Having reached the final, Tomic has guaranteed himself re-entry into the top 50 once the rankings are sorted after the tournament.
He's likely to begin his Australian Open campaign at No.49 if he loses the final, but a win could have him move as high as No.43 and past Marinko Matosevic as the No.1 Australian. Tomic, ranked No.64 in the world before the tournament, has upset a host of big names in his Australian Open preparations.
He shocked Novak Djokovic (1), Tommy Haas (20) and Seppi (22) at the Hopman Cup in Perth, before adding Florian Mayer (26) and Seppi again to his list of accomplishments.
Tomic will begin his Open campaign on Tuesday against Argentina's Leonardo Mayer. If he gets to the third round, Federer awaits.
''If I get to Roger it's going to be an interesting match,'' he said. ''The last time I played him was in Cincinnati where I think he won the tournament. I lost to him in the third round 6-2, 6-4. I think I've improved quite a bit and I've improved in different areas. Playing Roger is very difficult. He's one of the best players to play, for me. If I get that opportunity to get to the third round and play him, it will be an interesting match this time.''
Tomic saved six break points at 5-5 in a lengthy service game in the first set. It ensured it would be decided in a tie-breaker, in which Tomic saved four set points and butchered two of his own before finally claiming the set after 55 minutes. The second set was almost half as long, but the one break of serve Tomic managed was enough for him to move to the final.
Todd Woodbridge said on Friday that leaving Tomic out of next month's Davis Cup tie has had the desired effect, but Tomic believes his impressive start to the year wasn't triggered by his dumping.
''It wasn't about the Davis Cup,'' he said. ''That never triggered me. It was about me.''