Bernard Tomic is on track to regain his Australian No.1 tennis ranking following his charge to the Stockholm Open semi-finals.
For all his troubles, Bernard Tomic is set to end the year as Australia’s top-ranked men’s tennis player.
The biggest rankings riser of the week, Tomic has soared 20 spots to No.56 in the world after powering into the semi-finals of the Stockholm Open.
His three welcome victories, including back-to-back successes over big-serving seeds Kevin Anderson and Fernando Verdasco, were Tomic’s first main-draw wins since pulling out of his scheduled second-round match at the US Open with a hip injury.
Tomic, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, is now just four rankings spots behind Australian No.1 Lleyton Hewitt and two behind rising teenager Nick Kyrgios, who have both called an end to their 2014 ATP campaigns.
With Hewitt to contest the non-sanctioned International Premier League in November and December and Kyrgios recovering from an exhaustive breakout season highlighted by his charge to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Tomic now has a golden opportunity to enter the summer as Australian No.1.
Such a scenario seemed unlikely when the dual grand slam junior champion underwent hip surgery in January, sidelining him for more than a month, and downright unthinkable after he slumped to 124th in the world in July.
In between, the polarising personality was dumped by global management giants IMG.
But landing the second ATP title of his career in Bogota and his strong run in Stockholm either side of another injury setback has placed Tomic in pole position to overtake Hewitt and Kyrgios by season’s end.
Tomic didn’t win a main-draw match in three events last year after Stockholm so has precious few rankings points to defend.
Turning 34 in February, Hewitt, a former long-time world No.1, is more concerned about preparing for his record 19th Australian Open tilt than finishing a season as the top-ranked Aussie.
“I think he’s past those days now,” Hewitt’s manager David Drysdale told AAP on Tuesday.
“As long as his ranking is good enough to get him direct entry into the draw, he’s happy.
“He’s happy where he is at the moment and he’s more focused on playing well at the Australian Open.
“He finished hitting the ball pretty well at the US Open.”
After his involvement in the inaugural IPL, running from November 28 to December 13, Hewitt will defend his title at the Brisbane International – where he beat Roger Federer in last year’s final.
The veteran is unsure how he will complete his Open build-up, possibly playing in Sydney or Kooyong, or maybe even resting up ahead of the season’s first major at Melbourne Park.