Troubled Tomic talks about his 'ups and downs'
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)
After a tumultuous year of what he called ''ups and downs,'' Australia's tennis bad boy Bernard Tomic says he has learned from his mistakes.
Asked to sum up his 2012, Tomic laughed.
''Where should I start?'' the 20-year-old said, drawing laughter from a room full of reporters on the eve of the Australian Open.
Well, there was that falling out with Australia's Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter, which resulted two weeks ago in Tomic getting axed from his team's first-round matches in February.
Before that came questions about his performance at the U.S. Open in September in which he was accused of ''tanking,'' or deliberately losing, in a match against American Andy Roddick. He has been mocked in the Australian media as ''Tomic the Tank Engine.''
Then there were his run-ins with the law at home. He has been fined for a variety of driving offenses. In October, Tomic got into a fight with a friend in a hot tub on an apartment balcony that got so rowdy police were called in.
''I learned so much,'' he said Sunday, on the eve of the Australian Open. ''Ups and downs!''
''I'll learn from my downs,'' said Tomic. ''I'm happy I learned everything and I can use it to get the best potential out of myself.''
Tomic's antics have upstaged his talent and drawn criticism from other Australian players who say he should change his priorities and focus on his tennis.
He reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals as a qualifier in 2011 and advanced to the fourth round at last year's Australian Open. But after hit a career-high No. 27 in June, Tomic's ATP ranking slid to a year-end No. 52.
The new year is off to a good start.
Tomic beat No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup international mixed team tournament in Perth two weeks ago and on Saturday won his first ATP title by defeating South Africa's Kevin Anderson in the Sydney International final.
''It was a great night. It was difficult for me to sleep,'' Tomic said. ''It's a wonderful feeling. Hopefully there's many more to come.''
Tomic will begin his Australian Open campaign on Tuesday against Argentina's Leonardo Mayer and could meet Roger Federer if he reaches the third round.
ASIAN DREAMS: Rising Japanese star Kei Nishikori is taking it one dream at a time.
In October, the 23-year-old became the first Japanese player to win the Japan Open since it became a tour-level event 41 years ago.
''It was amazing,'' he said Sunday. ''It was one of my dreams to win the tournament.''
That was the latest tennis milestone for Nishikori, who last year became the first Japanese man to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. He hit a career high No. 15 ranking last October, another first for a Japanese man - which leads him to another dream.
''The goal would be Top 10. It's getting closer,'' said Nishikori, a native of Shimane Prefecture in southern Japan who moved at age 14 to Florida to train at the Nick Bollettieri Academy.
Asked to comment on women's tennis, Nishikori said he was disappointed to hear that the Pan Pacific Open, which is held in Tokyo, is being relocated to China.
''It's bad news,'' said Nishikori, who faces Romanian player Victor Hanescu in the first round. ''I want more tournaments in Japan, even Asia - I want to see more tournaments in Asia.''
The tournament is being shifted in 2014 to Wuhan, which is the hometown of Li Na - whose 2011 win at the French Open made her China's first Grand Slam champion.
At an earlier news conference Sunday, sixth-ranked Li expressed sadness, too - but she was referring to Kim Clijsters' departure from tennis.
''Why should I be happy?'' a smiling Li said, in response to a question about Clijster's retirement, which deprives Li of a much-coveted rematch.
The two played a dramatic fourth-round match last year in Melbourne, in which Clijsters beat Li after saving four match points despite a sprained ankle. The Belgian then retired at age 29 after playing the U.S. Open.
''I was really looking forward to playing her again,'' said Li, a 2011 finalist at Melbourne Park. She plays Sesil Karatantcheva in the first round Monday