AS SYDNEY sizzled in record temperatures, so too did a red-hot Bernard Tomic.
If the temperature had not still been hovering around the 40-degree mark at 6 o'clock on Tuesday night, the enigmatic Australian would have disposed of countryman Marinko Matosevic without raising a sweat.
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A searing heatwave in Sydney has seen players having to endure potentially dangerous conditions at the Apia International on Tuesday.
Tomic wasn't required to shift out of first gear as he continued his impressive Australian Open preparations with a victory against the only Australian male inside the top 50, his 13th win at home in 15 matches.
The Queenslander's 6-3, 6-4 win over the world No.49 in the first round of the Sydney International comes just a week after upsetting No.1 Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup in Perth, a performance which caught the attention of the five-time grand slam-winning Serbian.
''At the net he said, 'Well done, well played','' Tomic recalled. ''I talked to him after and he said, 'Good stuff, you were serving really well and I couldn't do anything and off the ground you were playing well'.
''To get that feedback from a guy like this is huge and it shows even the best players in the world know you're improving, so it's a good feeling.''
Questions were raised over the form of Tomic after the 20-year-old was bundled out of three consecutive ATP tour events in the first round last October.
But having taken some time off and enjoyed an extended off-season, Tomic has returned an invigorated player and appears to finally be walking the walk after three Hopman Cup wins and a first-round Sydney International triumph.
Having declared his intention to break his way into the top 10 before the year's end, Tomic hasn't failed to produce the tennis that he's shown he's capable of and labelled this year as his shot at revenge
''It is a bit like that,'' he said.
''Every player I play now, I want to win and give myself the best opportunity and chance to win. Every game I go into now, I believe I can win if I stay in there the whole match and fight for every point.''
Tomic broke his opponent's second service game and raced out to a 4-1 lead in the opening set, which proved too big a hurdle for Matosevic to overcome.
Tomic, who has dropped 34 ranking spots from his career best to sit at No.64 in the world, won 80 per cent of his first serves as Matosevic faltered with three double-faults.
It took just 35 minutes for Tomic, who had Olympic swimming medallist James Magnussen in his box on Tuesday night, to rack up a 6-3 first-set win, and the second set was over just as quickly.
Matosevic had the opportunity to go to a 2-1 lead in the second set but squandered a break-point opportunity that proved costly.
Tomic went on to break the 27-year-old in the following game then cruised to a 6-4 win to set up a second-round clash on Wednesday afternoon with German veteran Florian Mayer.
''It's a good opportunity for me,'' Tomic said
''I played Florian twice last year and got my arse kicked. It'll be an interesting match and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I can win.''
The last time Matosevic went head-to-head with Tomic was just before Wimbledon in 2011, when Tomic went on a brilliant charge to the quarter-finals of the grand slam.
Matosevic said there was one major difference in Tomic's game from the last time they met.
''He's serving much better, I thought,'' Matosevic said. ''That's about it.
''I think he's the same player [as] when he made that run but I think he's just serving a little better.''
Tomic admitted he's worked overtime improving his serve. ''I have and it showed against players last week,'' he said. ''Under pressure I'm serving really well and winning 80 and 90 per cent of my points when I need to. When my groundstrokes aren't working, I feel my serve gets me out of trouble now.''
In the following match Finland's Jarkko Nieminen did it easy over German qualifier Bjorn Phau, advancing to the second round with a straight sets win 6-0,6-1.
Earlier, former world No.1 Mats Wilander said he believed dumping Tomic from Australia's Davis Cup team would prove to be the making of the youngster.
Tomic vowed to recommit to the sport this year after tumbling down the world rankings in a controversy-marred 2012 season that culminated in his suspension from Davis Cup duties. And seven-time grand slam winner Wilander believes the penny has finally dropped for Tomic. ''We all know that he is very talented and I think we all know that he needed to mature, definitely needed to work a little harder than he has in the last two years,'' Wilander said. ''But from what I read in the papers, that is exactly what he has done.
''And being taken off the Davis Cup team was probably a really good thing for him - it wakes you up and [you] realise you have to be selfish but you have to respect the game, and it seems like that is what he is doing.''
Wilander is in South Australia for the exhibition World Tennis Challenge event.