AFTER the wheels fell off in 2012, the Bernard Tomic bandwagon is back and rolling.
The 20-year-old opted to take a break from tournament play in October after three successive first round exits.
All up he was beaten 10 times in round one matches last year.
But after working hard on his mental and physical preparation during his break, Tomic has opened 2013 with eight consecutive wins.
He won his three Hopman Cup singles matches in Perth, including a straight sets victory over world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and claimed his first ATP Tour title in Sydney on Saturday.
Tomic opens his Aussie Open campaign against Argentinian world No.72 Leonardo Mayer today, his goal of breaking into the top 10 in the world this year questioned by his potential round three opponent, Roger Federer.
"I think we should go step by step, see how it goes," the Swiss maestro said.
"Let's speak in a year's time. Everybody wants to jump from what's his ranking 60 to 10 in a year. It's hard to do. Ten is a big ask. Don't forget how tough the top 10 players are right now."
When told of Federer's words of caution about getting too far ahead of himself, Tomic returned serve to the 17-time Grand Slam winner.
"The first round is my goal, to beat this guy. I do struggle against some guys out there. I don't know how this guy can play. If the possibility comes for me to win that first match, I'll look for my next round, which is also tough," the Aussie said.
"I would love to get in that position to play Roger in the third round. He has to get there as well. You don't know what can happen. Tennis is a funny sport. So we'll see."
Tomic has never been short of confidence, but apart from reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2011, he hasn't been able to back it up on court.
That has alienated him from some fans, and also Tennis Australia officialdom.
His results this year, and repeated comments about how he loves playing in Australia, shows he may well have turned over a new leaf.
A win against Mayer is a must, and a third round match-up against Federer would be a promoter's dream.
"It's such a great privilege playing in Australia - the fans support you," Tomic said.
"This is where I play my best tennis. I'm going to use it here, and hopefully the crowd can get behind me a lot and support me throughout my matches. That's when I'll play better and better."
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