Darren Walton June 21, 2012
Bernard Tomic needs to develop a stronger serve to challenge the best men's tennis players, says Mark Philippoussis. Photo: Getty Images
Former finalist Mark Philippoussis fears Bernard Tomic lacks the serving firepower to be a realistic hope of breaking Australia's 10-year Wimbledon title drought.
Tomic last year became the youngest men's quarter-finalist at the All England Club since Boris Becker in 1985 and he'll be seeded at the grasscourt grand slam for the first time when it begins on Monday.
Philippoussis, runner-up to Roger Federer in 2003, has high hopes for the 19-year-old.
But Tomic has yet to conquer Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic - who have shared the past nine titles at Wimbledon - and Philippoussis says his teenage countryman will continue to struggle against the top dogs until he develops a more explosive serve.
''He's 6'4'', 6'5'' [194-196 centimetres] - he's got to have a bigger serve. He needs to have free points out there,'' Philippoussis said.
''You can't wait for someone to miss because these guys just don't miss anymore. So you need to have weapons to hurt people and to get out of tough situations instead of grinding out of a point.
''He's got a good serve, but it's kind of a tricky serve. He paints the corners well, but he just needs to be a bigger server.
''There's no reason why he shouldn't be because he's a big guy. He just doesn't utilise his body and his size at all on his serve, from what I see.''
Philippoussis said there was no doubting Tomic's immense talent.
''He's a little unconventional, which is good,'' he said.
''He's a great counter-puncher.
''He's very mature with the way he reads the game - he understands the game - and Wimbledon is one of his best surfaces for sure because of the way he plays.
''But he's still young and there's a couple of things that are very, very important for him to address for him to get to that top 10, top five, where he wants to go.''
Philippoussis is keen to see how the world No. 27 copes with having to defend a substantial number of rankings points from making the quarter-finals last year as an unseeded outsider.
''He's never done anything like that before,'' he said.
''It's different when no one expects you to do well coming into a grand slam and then you do well and it's also different when you've done well and then you know you've got to defend some points.
''So it will be interesting to see how he handles that - but he's very talented and has a great game. His groundstrokes are great.''
Australia's only other hope in the men's draw, 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, yesterday rebounded from his first-round loss to Ivo Karlovic at Queen's with an impressive 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 exhibition win over world No. 20 Kei Nishikori in suburban London.
''That's going to give him confidence,'' Philippoussis said.
''From what I saw, he was hitting the ball great.
''But he hasn't played too many matches.
''His first event back from surgery was the French Open, coming back straight into a five-setter and that's tough.
''Hopefully, physically, he's up to the task.'' AAP
Wimbledon: Day one from 8pm.
TV time: Live on Fox Sports 3 and 7 two.