As if a horror Australian Open draw wasn’t bad enough, now Bernard Tomic has been stripped of his Sydney International crown as well.
Clubbing winner after winner, a merciless Juan Martin del Potro added to Tomic’s woes with a 6-3 6-1 shellacking in Saturday night’s final at Sydney Olympic Park.
Tomic’s heavy defeat ended his nine-match winning streak at the venue and comes just three days ahead of the 21-year-old’s daunting first-round Open showdown with world No.1 Rafael Nadal on Tuesday.
All business, Del Potro didn’t give the defending champion a sniff, dropping only six points on serve all match.
He raced through the first set in 26 minutes, breaking Tomic in the seventh and ninth games as the Australian struggled to cope with the world No.5’s ferocious forehand.
Any hopes of a fightback like in his plucky semi-final win over Sergiy Stakhovsky were scuppered when Tomic dropped serve for a third time to fall behind 3-1 in the second set.
The former US Open champion thundered down his fifth and sixth aces the following game to consolidate the break for a 4-1 lead and there was no way back for Tomic.
Completely dispirited, Tomic dropped his next service game to love before Del Potro served out the match after just 53 minutes.
Del Potro, the only player to beat each of the Big Four of Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray in 2013, said he surprised even himself with his flawless performance.
“I played great,” he said.
“My forehand worked perfect. I made a lot winners, many aces, played good slices.
“Every long rally we played, I won all of them, which is good for my confidence during the game.
“I think Bernard was a little frustrated to see me very focused on the match and hitting the ball so well.”
Tomic admitted as much, saying he was powerless to stop del Potro once he found his rhythm and range.
“I got killed. There was nothing I could do,” Tomic said after losing the most one-sided final in Sydney since Lleyton Hewitt thumped Jason Stoltenberg for the concession of only four games in 2000.
Del Potro’s victory was his 23rd straight as a top seed, the big Argentine adding the Sydney trophy to titles accrued in Basel, Tokyo, Washington and Vienna as the tournament favourite.
It was the South American’s 18th title of his career and completes a perfect Open preparation for the only player other than Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray to have won a grand slam in the past nine years.
He plays a qualifier in the first round and is seeded to meet Nadal in the quarter-finals.