TORONTO—Midway through the second set after Bernard Tomic held serve to knot the score at 2-2, the fans in the Rexall Centre here at the Rogers Cup broke into a "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" chant. Soon after, during the changeover, a Roger Federer Lindt chocolate commercial shown on the scoreboard received more applause.
Novak Djokovic, the defending champion here looked up with an expression of "What do I have to do to get some respect?" But Tomic and the fans could do very little to slow the world No. 2 as he rolled to a 6-2, 6-3 victory in the second round.
At 19, Tomic is ranked No. 49, but he has been on a downward spiral since the Australian Open this year where he reached the Round of 16. Until beating Michael Berrer in the first round here, Tomic had dropped six straight matches. There is a little bit of Miloslav Mecir in Tomic, but also some of Donald Young, about whom Tomic said about yesterday, "for anyone it's difficult when they're losing a lot, but you got to find a way to get out of it." Tonight against Djokovic, Tomic couldn't find a way to escape losing streaks.
He had his chances. In each of Djokovic's first three service games, the six-foot-five Tomic had break points. After cracking a forehand return for an outright winner off a Djokovic second serve at 2-2, 0-30, Tomic smiled at the crowd and flexed his right biceps muscle. Tomic eventually earned three break points in the fourth game —six break points overall in the set — but Djokovic denied each one. Even after Djokovic hit a crafty backhand drop shot winner to save the second of those break points, Tomic was still smiling. But Djokovic ended up winning seven points in a row and broke Tomic for the first time at 3-2.
Tomic, an unorthodox player who tries to lull opponents into errors with flat shots often hit with little pace, seemed reluctant to pressure Djokovic. On one point at 4-2, Tomic lobbed over Djokovic's head, who rushed the net more than he usually does, but didn't move up to the net when the ball landed a foot inside the baseline. Djokovic retrieved it and a shot later rushed the net again. Tomic tried to lob Djokovic again, but the Serb knocked off a backhand overhead.
The Australian of Croatian heritage played more aggressively in the second set, but at 3-4 a Tomic forehand sailed wide and Djokovic had his break. The break point was a repeat of the pattern Djokovic employed tonight against Tomic where he nailed him down into his backhand corner before swinging him wide to his forehand side and approaching the net. Because Tomic slides his forehand more than he comes over it, often his balls found the bottom of the net.
After the match, Djokovic was asked if Tomic holds him in too much awe—the two are close and practice a lot—and Djokovic smiled and said, "I don't know. You have to ask him that."
The top-seeded Serbian faces American Sam Querrey next. Querrey cracked 12 aces and saved all nine break points he faced to knock off No. 13 seed Kei Nishikori, 6-2, 6-3.