©istockphoto.com/Michael Flippo

Tomic reveals his growing pains

GOLD Coast young gun Bernard Tomic admits a career reality check was behind his last-minute decision to contest the junior US Open tennis in New York.

The third-seeded Tomic made a successful start to his campaign on Monday (AEST) with a routine 6-4 6-3 win over Finland's Henri Laaksonen before revealing he's not quite ready just yet to exclusively tackle the big boys of tennis.

At just 16 years and three months old, Tomic in January upstaged Italian Potito Starace to become the youngest player ever to win a main-draw men's singles match at the Australian Open.

“That match changed my life,” Tomic said after booking a second-round appointment at Flushing Meadows.

“After that match, I started playing great tennis and won a Challenger (in Tasmania) and got my ranking up in the 300s.

“It's proven to me that I can play with these guys but obviously I've just got to get stronger.

“That's the main key ... I need to get stronger and mature more.”

Tomic, billed as Australian tennis's saviour after setting records around the globe, had planned to leave the junior circuit behind, but the towering 16-year-old - who already stands 194cm tall - had a change of heart after failing to land either of the junior French Open or Wimbledon crowns.

Clijsters throws down the gauntlet BUBBLY Belgian Kim Clijsters signed autographs, posed for photos with fans and then promptly dumped Venus Williams from the US Open at Flushing Meadows yesterday (AEST).

All as if the past two years had never happened. Clijsters' 6-0 0-6 6-4 victory over the third-seeded Williams - in one of the most bizarre matches seen at the Open - would have sent chills down the spines of her 11 remaining rivals in the women's draw.

In just her third tournament back since retiring almost two years ago to start a family with American former basketballer Brian Lynch, Clijsters now stands within three wins of completing a fairytale comeback at the very same venue she won her one and only grand slam title back in 2005.

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