Hometown hero faces a huge challenge in the form of the world number two.
Lleyton Hewitt has urged Bernard Tomic to play through the pain barrier if he is to pull off amonumental upset over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.
Tomic’s work ethic has been questioned in the past but Grand Slam warrior Hewitt has backed his Davis Cup team-mate to stretch the top seed.
“It’s going to be tough for him (Tomic) to go with Rafa for five sets,” Hewitt said ahead of Tuesday’s blockbuster.
“It turns into a physical battle. That’s what Rafa does to everyone out there.
“The kind of pain and stuff that Novak (Djokovic) had to go through to win a few years ago (2012) on centre court, that’s what it takes.
“I can definitely see the first couple of sets with Bernie, he’ll get his chances.”
While Tomic has remained philosophical about his horror first-round draw, the London Times reported that his father, John, had complained to the tournament director.
John Tomic is banned from attending ATP tournaments after his conviction last May for assaulting his son’s hitting partner, Thomas Drouet.
Tomic has been in good form at the start of this season, reaching the Sydney International where he was thrashed 6-3, 6-1 by Juan Martin del Potro.
But Hewitt said Tomic can rise to the big occasion, after impressing in his defeat to Nadal at the 2011 Australian Open where he built a 4-0 lead in the second set before going out in straight sets.
“He (Tomic) does get up for the big matches,” Hewitt said. “I have no doubt he’s going to play a good match.”
Few believe Tomic, 21, has much of a chance against the 13-time Grand Slam winner, but the confident world number 57 said he had faith in his abilities.
“Everything is possible these days, everything is possible,” he said.
“I’m playing good. I’m pretty confident. I’ve just got to play the tennis I played early throughout the Sydney International.”
Nadal’s last appearance in Melbourne, in 2012, ended in a blockbuster final with Novak Djokovic which the Serb edged after a record five hours and 53 minutes.