No more mind games. No more talk. Tonight we find out if Bernard Tomic can match it with Roger Federer.
“I'm ready. I mean, I'm not going to say, you know, I don't have the belief,” said the new and improved Tomic. “I do have the belief now. It's possible. I showed that in Perth, that you can beat these players. Now I'm going to try to beat him.”
“I think it's important to be confident to a degree, you know,” said the unflappable Federer. “It seems he has that. Now obviously we both have to live up to a big match, big hype, and then we can talk about it afterwards.
“Obviously a difficult match-up in terms of early in the tournament, but I've got to be ready, so I'm looking forward to the match.”
So are a lot of people.
These two met at a similar stage of this tournament last year, the fourth round to be exact. That night, expectation was high, but Tomic was unable to match it, Federer winning in straight sets.
But this year, things feel slightly different – and it’s largely due to Tomic. Anybody who has watched the boy wonder in 2013 attests to the fact that he looks a different player to the one who started 2012 with a bang but ended it with barely a whimper.
There’s the improved serve, better court coverage and the confidence. The latter is something that Tomic has never been short of, but so far this year his actions have almost been bolder than his words, which hasn’t always been the case.
“I had a few flaws in my game, and I improved that. I improved my serve a lot and my fitness. That's why I think I'm playing good tennis on the court,” he said.
“I feel so confident. This is the perfect time to play him. I think, you know, I've got a good attitude to win. I've beaten a lot of good players over the last past two weeks, especially Novak.”
The win over Djokovic in Perth did raise a few eyebrows, but it needs to be taken in context. The match was played at the Hopman Cup, an invitational event. It was Djokovic’s second match in Australia and not his best performance. In saying that, Tomic did play well and it gave him confidence.
From there he swept through Sydney to win his first ATP title, dropping just two sets along the way and defeating five players ranked above him.
Federer, meanwhile, skipped the lead-up events, but it doesn’t appear to have done him any harm. He has been clinical so far in his victories over Benoit Paire and former No.3 Nikolay Davydenko.
The second seed has looked good, but hasn’t hit his peak yet and still has another one or two gears that he hasn’t needed. Should Tomic start strongly on Saturday night, he may well need to dig a little deeper to shrug off the aspiring Australian.
This match has the potential to be a turning point for Tomic, whose win-loss ratio prior to this event was a barely passable 52-51. Could a victory here kick-start his ascent to the top 10, or will Federer bring him back to earth?