Tomic's languid loss cruels Open preparation
BERNARD Tomic has had his Australian Open plans upended by a first-round Brisbane International loss.
The lanky Tomic's movement was all at sea in his first match of the year when beaten 6-3 7-5 by Spain's former world No.3 David Ferrer.
Tomic, a Brisbane semi-finalist in 2012 and 2016, made 24 unforced errors in the first set compared to only six by a baseliner who has amassed $US29 million in prizemoney mostly by minimising his errors and making his opponent hit one more ball.
The Australian No.2 will drop from No.26 in the rankings as he was defending semi-final points in Brisbane, but is still set to be one of the 32 seeds at the Australian Open, which starts on January 16.
But his match play for the grand slam event is now an issue as he is not taking part in next week's Sydney International, where he was a quarter-finalist last summer.
Languid movement from Tomic is often misconstrued as a lack of complete effort, but there was a despairing toss of his towel in the direction of a ballboy when Ferrer held serve for a 4-2 lead.
Tomic's lack of cutting edge was a surprise, given his customary success in Australian conditions, which features one Sydney title and one runner-up berth in the Harbour City.
The 24-year-old Queenslander had said he had managed a much longer pre-season than he had last year in Brisbane, when it took the eventual champion Milos Raonic to stop a run, which had included a scalp of top-10 player Kei Nishikori.
Tomic and eighth seed Ferrer were both broken in their first service games of the year and the Australian would win only 17% of points in the match when the Spaniard put his first serve in play.
Tomic made the running on most of the points, predictably, given Ferrer's game style.
Ferrer was more lively on his feet and was able to expose a lack of agility from the Queenslander in breaking serve three times in the first set.
Ferrer, ranked five places ahead of Tomic, won a crucial challenge and argument with the chair umpire when the Queenslander served at 5-6.
Tomic successfully challenged a line call at 15-all and when the point was awarded to the local, Ferrer contested it and the umpire concluded there had been "official interference'' to his own missed shot.
Tomic saved two match points but a double-fault and a forehand error ended the match.
Ferrer will play Sydney wildcard Jordan Thompson in the second round.
Earlier, Elina Svitolina beat Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig in straight sets on Pat Rafter Arena to kick off day two at the Brisbane International.
Svitolina, the tournament's sixth seed, has carried on from her breakthrough season last year where she became the only player on tour to beat 2016's both world No.1s, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.
The Ukrainian world No.14 cruised past Puerto Rican Puig 6-3 6-3.