Finding the groove … Roger Federer steps up his Australian Open preparation with a hit at Melbourne Park on Sunday. Photo: Eddie Jim
A REINVIGORATED Bernard Tomic believes he has devised a plan that will help him reach top-10 status before the end of the year.
Tomic has decided to limit his workload to avoid a repeat of last year, when he felt ''physically and mentally drained'', opting to play in a maximum of three tournaments in a row before taking a break.
''Take two months away from tournaments and you get to learn what it is you really want,'' Tomic said before the start of his Sydney International campaign on Tuesday. ''Spending two to three weeks off and having a little break and then coming back training for eight to nine weeks was huge for me.
''I had no time to train last year. I kept playing tournament after tournament and I've improved so much the last two months and the results are really showing.
''One of the biggest problems I had last year was I had no time to rest … I played a whole bunch of tournaments in a row. Tournaments didn't feel like tournaments to me at a stage because I didn't know what I was playing.
''I think, from now, I've decided to play not more than three tournaments in a row and having two weeks off after each period. That's when I'm going to give myself the best chance. When I'm prepared and fit to play each tournament to give 100 per cent.''
Fresh from a 6-4, 6-4 Hopman Cup victory against world No.1 Novak Djokovic, Tomic is beaming with confidence.
He believes his new-found motivation combined with his energy-saving strategy will make him a force to be reckoned with, not only at this year's Australian Open, but long into the future.
''The way I've been playing now, there's no stopping me,'' Tomic said. ''I'm not going to say I'll be in the top 10 in two or three months. It could take a little bit longer, I don't know. It could happen just like that, the way I've been playing.
''I believe I'll get there this year, and if I keep up this attitude and the way I've been playing, who knows from there? I could go even higher.''
The 20-year-old was on the end of a barrage of criticism from the Australian media, which questioned the Queenslander's attitude after a horror end to last year.
He was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons but Tomic has no regrets and believes he is a better person and player for having been through the ordeal of last year.
''It was quite difficult,'' he said. ''I was on the road for so long and it was my first big year on the tour. I realised it is a really hard year and it is difficult. I didn't approach it well at times and now I'm happy I've learnt all this and learnt from my mistakes.
''Now it's all going to come good for me. I've learnt for this year what I need to do to give myself the best chance of being a better player.''
Tomic, who was dropped from the Davis Cup team in December, will miss Australia's first two ties and said he won't return to represent the country until at least September.
''That's out of the question now,'' Tomic said of the first Davis Cup tie in Taiwan in February.
''I don't think I'll be participating in that tie or the tie after in April. After that, in September, if they need me and everything is available, then I'll be more than happy to play. Until then, hopefully I can get my ranking up higher.''
His first match of the Sydney International will be against countryman and world No.49 Marinko Matosevic.
''Yeah, it's always strange when you play an Australian,'' Tomic said. ''I know Marinko well. It's going to be a bit strange but it's tennis. I've got to go out there and compete and try to win. That's what I'm going to do.''