He may divide opinion with his controversies off-court and his at times questionable attitude on it but Bernard Tomic feels he has the nation behind him.
And now he’s hoping to silence any critics with a successful Sydney International title defence.
Tomic on Wednesday night advanced to the quarter-finals with a hard-fought victory over Slovenian qualifier Blaz Kavcic.
Having enjoyed a quickfire win over eighth-seeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers in his opening encounter, Tomic had a bigger fight on his hands with Kavcic pushing him to three sets before the Australian prevailed 6-3 4-6 6-4.
Tomic’s father John, who caused the biggest controversy in his son’s life after being banned from gaining accreditation to ATP events for 12 months, was again spotted in the stands on Wednesday with tournament organisers allowing him to attend as a spectator.
The 21-year-old has also had his fair share of indiscretions, from speeding fines in expensive cars to posing for questionable photos with girls during a night of drunken revelry at Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast.
He was also accused of `tanking’ by tennis great John McEnroe who thought he wasn’t having a genuine go in his heavy loss to Andy Roddick at the 2012 US Open.
But Tomic, who won his his sole title in Sydney last year and has posted strong results at the Australian Open, feels he’s always had strong home support.
“I have a huge support in Australia playing the last few years, and always have since I was 15, 16. Every year the support is becoming better and better,” he said.
“Obviously I play very good in Australia, and that’s why the crowd seems to support me well.
“There are people out there that don’t like you obviously, you know, for what you’re doing and for what privileges you have. It’s difficult for them to see you on top.
“You’re always going to have haters out there.”
The world No.52 Tomic will now take on Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov on Thursday night for a spot in the semi-finals.
In six previous encounters Tomic has only managed one win – a five-set slog in the second round of the Australian Open in 2012 – and he says getting another win on Thursday will help silence any critics.
“The majority of the crowd like me in Australia,” he said.
“At the end of the day, if you win, it’s going to put a zip to everyone (zip everyone up).
“But you got to have a strong attitude. It’s got to be there whether you’re winning or not.”
A win against Dolgopolov will set up a possible semi-final clash with fellow Australian Marinko Matosevic who faces Sergiy Stakhovsky in the other quarter-final on Thursday night.
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