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Tennis | More Tennis

Bernard Tomic © Gallo Images

Tomic wants fresh start at Hopman Cup



Bernard Tomic is looking to shed his bad-boy image as he takes to the court against German veteran Tommy Haas on Saturday to start for host Australia at the Hopman Cup.

The 20-year-old Queenslander said on Friday that his focus was ahead, not behind, to an event that duplicates conditions to be found at the Australian Open, the Grand Slam that starts on January 14.

He drew fire during the 2012 season for a perceived lack of effort that saw him cut from the Davis Cup team and for conflicts with police and other players.

John McEnroe accused him during ESPN2 commentary of "tanking" in a loss to Andy Roddick at the US Open four months ago. Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter later called the laxity "disgraceful."

Tomic conceded in October, after he last competed, that he had only given "85 per cent" after losing at the Shanghai Masters. In those matches, he lost the final set 6-0.

"Last season was a big learning one for me," said the number 52 and 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinalist whose ATP rank took a dive during his recent listless season. "I didn't handle the pressure well."

"I've still got to learn to deal with problems. I've also been working on my ... attitude a lot in the off season," Tomic said in Perth. "I'm hitting the ball well though, and I really like this new venue, [so] I'm looking forward to starting out tomorrow."

Tomic's first test would come Saturday night at the new Perth Arena when he plays Haas after teenaged teammate Ashleigh Barty takes on Andrea Petkovic in the Australia vs Germany face-off comprising men's and women's singles plus mixed doubles.

The eight-nation team event has been taken over by Tennis Australia after the quarter-of-century tournament was seized from founder Paul McNamee in a boardroom coup.

The field is headed by world No 1 Novak Djokovic, playing with former top-ranked Ana Ivanovic. The top-seeded Serbs head a field that includes the United States with John Isner and Venus Williams and France with debutant Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - the 2008 Australian Open finalist - and Mathilde Johansson.

Tomic said that rebuilding his tennis career would not be easy.

"I'm expecting a lot from myself," he said going into the Haas match holding a 1-1 record against the 34-year-old German. "Guys have figured out my game now, and I have to improve."

"I'm really keen to get started in this tournament," he said. "I might struggle and won't win every match this season, but if I keep up the work I've been doing this last seven weeks, I'm sure I will find a way."

The Hopman is to open on Saturday morning as Spain, represented by Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues, face South Africa, fronted by Kevin Anderson and Chanelle Scheepers.

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