Teenage sensation Tomic cruises into quarter-finals

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The Independent Online

Australian teenager Bernard Tomic is living the life of his heroes after blazing through to the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a straight-sets hammering of Xavier Malisse.

The 18-year-old qualifier needed just an hour and 21 minutes to beat the Belgian 6-1 7-5 6-4 on Court 18 this afternoon to move into the last eight - his best grand slam performance.

Only Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe have reached the same stage of Wimbledon at a younger age.

Tomic, born in Germany to Bosnian and Croatian parents, moved to Australia when he was two and started playing when he was seven.

When he was eight, Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon as a qualifier, with fellow Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis getting to the final in the two subsequent years and, in Hewitt's case, winning it.

Tomic idolised all three, along with a number of other Wimbledon greats, and always believed if he carried on with his passion for the game he could one day end up mirroring their achievements.

"I looked up to Goran, and I looked up to Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras," he said.

"Then Roger Federer took over and started dominating. I had a few idols when I was young. I looked up to Roger when he won his first Wimbledon here and beat Philippoussis.

"Ever since that, the love of the game has always been there. Ever since I was young, I supported Lleyton when he was playing at Wimbledon, playing finals and winning. It told me that one day, maybe I could be here competing at this level."

That level was something close to perfection today, as he followed up his drubbing of fifth seed Robin Soderling on Saturday with a similarly comprehensive win over Malisse, ranked 116 places above him in the world.

Having torn into a 5-0 first-set lead with two breaks of serve, he then took opportunities as and when they were presented to him as Malisse at least lifted his level of performance.

He laid on his second-set success with a pair of forehand winners, before unstoppable shots on both wings helped him take the third.

"I never thought I'd be here in the second week, especially in the quarter-finals," said Tomic, who now lives on the Gold Coast.

"What a tournament it's been for me, I've learned a lot. I'm in a position now where I've never been happier and I'm looking forward to playing on Wednesday."

Tomic is enjoying everything about his rapid rise to fame.

"It had to happen some time," he said, laughing.

"Ever since the qualifiers, I tried to play a little bit more relaxed than I'm used to. I told myself I had a tournament and said 'play well'.

"Ever since I qualified I've been relaxed. I've found my game, it's where it needs to be and that's having fun out there and playing without pressure.

"Six months ago I was playing a bit more defensively, not playing my game. I think I have now learned how to play my game."