Tomic begins toughest challenge of career
BERNARD Tomic has entered two Challenger tournaments in Europe as his first steps back to a tennis career after his controversial television reality show appearance.
Tomic last week vowed to recommit himself to training to climb out of his career hole, after a rankings drop to No.168, despite encouragement from many experienced Australian tennis observers that he take a long break.
Tomic has targeted a Challenger level tournament in Lille, France from March 19.
After that is a second Challenger in Alicante, Spain from April 2 before entries in four more prestigious ATP tournaments, not all of which he would ultimately play qualifying at as they are in consecutive weeks.
The Challenger entries are significant because the 25-year-old who has referred interviewers to his "millions'' when asked about his tennis downturn has entered two of the less lucrative events at Challenger level in Europe at this time of year.
The 32 players in the fields at both Lille and Alicante will share in a total of 40,000 euros ($A67,500) at each tournament.
The Davis Cup team stayaway has ignored advice from many in the Australian tennis community, including by former Wimbledon champion John Newcombe, that he take up to 12 months away from the sport to decide if he wants to be on the tennis circuit.
Tomic played one Challenger in Europe last October in a bid to improve his ranking, which needs to be top-100 before he can be a direct entry to Grand Slams or play qualifying for the second-tier ATP 1000 events.
The Gold Coaster has also entered four ATP tournaments in four weeks in April, including an ATP 1000 event at Monte Carlo, and has tested the water with applications for wildcards at some.
But he will play qualifying at some of those four events - including Marrakesh, Morocco, Budapest, Hungary and Istanbul, Turkey - if tournament bosses are unwilling to offer a main-draw wildcard to a former top-20 player challenged by a lack of application to his career.
Australia does not play a Davis Cup until September after their elimination by Germany in Brisbane.
That will not be enough time for peace to be achieved between Tomic and the Australian Davis Cup team, or Tomic and Tennis Australia, which he accused of corruption last month without seeing the need to advance an explanation.
Asked if the Australian team would reach out to Tomic, Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt said: "Not right now, no.''
While a reunion appears to be at long odds, in time it might be mutually beneficial.
Australian tennis has only six men under the age 24 ranked in the top 300: Nick Kyrgios (ranking 14, age 22), Jordan Thompson (102, 23), Alex de Minaur (139, 18), Akira Santillan (148, 20), Thanasi Kokkinakis (217, 21) and Max Purcell (273, 19).
In the short term, Kyrgios will take at least a week off to rest a right elbow injury which hampered him in his straight sets loss to Alex Zverev.
Hewitt said he was open to playing Kyrgios where he could on all three days of a Davis Cup tie. But realistically, such a call would be pressure on a player who clearly carries the team spearhead burden until de Minaur, in particular, matures to attack the top-50 in the rankings.