Outspoken Bernard Tomic has taunted Roger Federer over his struggles against Novak Djokovic after the Swiss great candidly told the young Aussie he had to knuckle down if he wanted to reach the top 10.
Tomic, who has made more noise off the court than on it in his career so far, said the 17-time Grand Slam winner was “nowhere near” the world number one and insisted his own game was top-eight material.
“I think he’s also far away from Djokovic as well, if he wants to say that,” Tomic told reporters, after beating fellow Aussie John Millman to set up an Australian Open last-16 clash with Andy Murray.
“If he believes I’m very far away from the top 10, I also believe my prediction that he’s nowhere near Novak’s tennis right now.”
Tomic was reacting to Federer’s comments at this month’s Brisbane International when he said the 23-year-old needed to work hard all year if he wants to be a top-10 player.
Djokovic beat Federer, 34, in two Grand Slam finals in 2015, a season which was dominated by the Serbian world number one who only just missed out on a calendar-year Grand Slam.
“The year is not just one month long or one week long. It’s 52 weeks. It’s every day. That (is what) he’s been struggling to show, to be quite honest,” Federer, the world number three, told reporters.
“Many seasons now in a row we have seen or heard that top 10 is the goal, and he’s missed out on it by a long shot.”
Tomic, Australia’s top-ranked player and currently at a career high of 17, said that Federer’s criticism would serve as motivation to push up the rankings.
“I’m working for that. When I’m playing well, I’m a top-eight player in the world. My ranking has to get there,” he said. “I’m going to work every day this year getting to the top 10. It’s not just getting to the top 10. I’m going to get there. It’s about staying there for a while. It’s about being consistent.
“These guys that have been there the last five, six years on the tour, you have (Tomas) Berdych, (David) Ferrer, (Kei) Nishikori who have been there for a while, they’re consistent. “That’s what I want to become.”
Tomic also said he didn’t expect Murray, the world number two, to be distracted by Saturday’s medical drama when his father-in-law Nigel Sears, Ana Ivanovic’s coach, collapsed and was taken to hospital.
“I’m sure it will have no effect for him when he plays on Monday,” said Tomic, who is into the Australian Open fourth round for the third time.