BERNARD Tomic says he is braced for an "awkward” third-round encounter with Britain's Dan Evans, who the Aussie insists is playing with "nothing to lose.”
Tomic will reach the fourth round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park for the third straight year if he can topple the 26-year-old.
Once considered the bad boy of British tennis, the dangerous Evans appears to be in career-best form and will be full of confidence after upsetting world No. 7 Marin Cilic in the second round.
When asked if the draw had opened up for him following Cilic's shock early exit, Tomic replied: "Yes and no, because Evans is not easy to play - he's awkward. I did beat him the last time in four sets in the Davis Cup.
"He beat me prior to that when I think I was 19 or 20 at the US Open, where he beat (Kei) Nishikori as well in straight sets.
"He goes for it - he plays amazing and he just made the final of (the) Sydney (International).
"This player has nothing to lose. He's playing the best tennis of his life at this stage and he deserves to be in the third round.”
There were many questions surrounding Tomic's fitness and preparation leading into the year's first grand slam, but those fears were eased somewhat when the Queenslander toughed it out in a tight four-set win over the hard-working Victor Esrella Burgos on Wednesday night.
"I did a lot of different things the past month for my fitness. I'm happy where I am. I could always be better,” Tomic said.
"I'm just addressing the stuff I need to do well to play the grand slam at a high quality, which is my serve, my tennis, going for my shots, being rock solid from the ground.
"I think I'm getting the hang of playing well. Now I'm in the third round of a slam.”
Topic and Evans have some history. In 2013, Evans declared that a snub from Tomic's father was the motivation behind an upset victory over the Aussie at the US Open.
Evans revealed at the time that John Tomic once told him he was not good enough to hit with his son.
When asked about that this week, Tomic Jnr said he could not remember the incident. He added, however, there was no bad blood.
"I think we're good friends. I have no problem with him at all. He has no problem with me. He's a nice guy,” Tomic said.
"I respect him, what he's achieved so far. I wish him the best of luck for the third round.”