Too late to win automatic qualification for next month's U.S.
Open, Tomic's second ATP title was a timely riposte to an army of
critics in his home country and came only days after being dumped by
powerful sports management company IMG.
"He's a very difficult player," Tomic said of Croatian Karlovic, the
second seed and defending champion, who might be sick of the sight
of Australians after being edged by former world number one Lleyton
Hewitt at Newport earlier this month.
"He won here last year. For me it was a difficult match. I kept
trying and believing in myself. Against him, if you stop believing
and trying he will beat you."
Tomic's victory has lifted his world ranking up to 70 after it had
drifted out of the top 100, ending a dreadful six months in which he
struggled to string two wins together after coming back from surgery
on both hips.
Prior to the surgery, Tomic was forced to retire in the first round
of his home grand slam against Rafa Nadal in January and despite his
clear discomfort, was jeered by fans at Rod Laver Arena.
He was further slammed by home media in Australia after he bowed out
in his comeback match 6-0 6-1 to Finland's Jarkko Nieminen at the
Miami Masters, losing in 28 minutes, the quickest ATP victory since
records started in 1991.
Once touted a future top-10 player, Australian tennis fans had
become increasingly weary of the two-time junior grand slam champion
who showed immense promise with a Wimbledon quarter-final appearance
at the age of 18 but has since failed to live up to his own lofty
Tomic's struggles have been magnified by the rapid rise of
19-year-old Nick Kyrgios, who stunned 14-times grand slam champion
Nadal to also reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon earlier this
[to top of second column]
Supremely gifted and seen as a humble, wholesome athlete, Kyrgios's
Wimbledon breakthrough caused a frenzy Down Under and inevitably
raised comparisons with Tomic.
"At last, we no longer have to pretend we like Bernard Tomic," a
News Ltd commentary said before Kyrgios's match-up with Nadal at
News of Tomic's Bogota WIN prompted a backhanded compliment from the
same media company.
"Bernard Tomic finally did something right," a headline on News Ltd
media portal News.com.au read on Monday.
Though the victory in a minor tournament in South America may seem a
small step in Tomic's comeback, footage of the Australian nearly
breaking down in tears of frustration before collapsing on the court
after closing out victory are likely to do much more for his damaged
brand in Australia.
(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien)
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