Struggling: Bernard Tomic has lost four straight first-round matches and is on the lookout for a new coach. Photo: Reuters
Former Davis Cup coach Wally Masur reckons Bernard Tomic doesn't need to look too far afield for help to turn his slump around.
Tomic crashed to his fourth consecutive first-round loss, including a recent retirement to Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny, to again raise questions about his mental state. Even the great Rod Laver, never one to put a rocket up anyone, urged the 21-year-old to give his best effort every time he stepped on court.
With his father, John, serving a one-year tournament ban for headbutting Frenchman Thomas Drouet in May, Tomic has acknowledged the time has come to appoint a new coach as a replacement. And Masur believes there are plenty of compatriots capable of giving him the coaching guidance that appears to be missing.
''His father, that's a grey area depending on how that all evolves,'' Masur said.
''A strong character would be important, someone like a Roger Rasheed, who has just taken up with [Bulgarian world No.22] Grigor Dimitrov, who is an emerging player as well.
''He's someone who could do a fantastic job. Roger is a personal friend of mine and I know how he operates.
''If you're Bernie you've got access to Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt; I would sit down with those two guys and say: 'Where am I at? What do I need to do?'
''You'd be talking to grand slam champions who were No.1 in the world and that would be a pretty good start. Whatever they said, I'd be paying very close attention.''
Some of Tomic's best performances of the season have been at Davis Cup level, where he starred in ties against Uzbekistan and Poland to lead Australia back into the world group. Masur believes Tomic would benefit from a similar environment when on the ATP tour.
''I'd have to say that everything that has happened with his father has probably taken a bit of a toll,'' he said.
''His father was such a strong figure in his life and to have that taken away, Bernie scrambled to put a team around him while he's on the tour.
''It's really all about direction and having faith in him, which is why he played in Davis Cup. Being surrounded by [Tony] Roche, Rafter and [Josh] Eagle, he was around people he could trust and that gave him some genuine direction. He responded to that and that's the key for Bernie, surrounding himself with a really good team.
''I don't know the situation with his father, I think it gets reviewed in May, but that will be the challenge - finding people he believes in and getting good direction so he can maximise his ability.''
Having rejoined the world group for the first time since 2007, Australia's next Davis Cup opponent will be France at Vendespace sports complex at Mouilleron-le-Captif in western France. It will be the first meeting between the nations since the 2001 final in Melbourne, which France won 3-2. ''If the French are all fit and firing, they are dangerous,'' Masur said.
''They've got [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga, [Gael] Monfils, some old stagers like [Michael] Llodra. They are a strong nation and they will be tough to beat, we won't go in as favourites. But I'm pleased with they way they have played in the Davis Cup of late.''
■Australia's Samantha Stosur reached the WTA Tournament of Champions semi-finals on Friday with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Bulgarian wildcard Tsvetana Pironkova. Fourth-seeded Stosur will face Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a place in the final.
''I definitely got a lot tighter as the match went on,'' Stosur said.
''I got off to a great start, then a tough service game trying to serve out the set. Thankfully, I got through that, then it was a matter of holding serve from there. I got the break in the second set and managed to close it out, so I'm happy.''
''It's been great to be able to carry on from the last three or four weeks. To come here, the last event, to finish the group on top, hopefully I can continue the momentum in the semi-finals.''