TOKYO, JAPAN — OCTOBER 04: Bernard Tomic of Australia plays a backhand against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during day three of the Rakuten Open at Ariake Coliseum on October 4, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN — OCTOBER 04: Bernard Tomic of Australia plays a backhand against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during day three of the Rakuten Open at Ariake Coliseum on October 4, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Tomic’s lifeline: Melbourne Park or the jungle?

THE intrigue around Bernard Tomic's future has taken another twist with the Queenslander agreeing to play the Priceline Classic at Kooyong next week, while doubts remain over his Australian Open qualifying intentions.

Kooyong tournament director Peter Johnston said Tomic would use a late afternoon pipe-opener on Tuesday as preparation for Australian Open qualifying, which starts the following day.

This is despite the former world No 17 indicating to Tennis Australia he would likely bypass qualifying and rumours he is set to be paid $1 million to appear on Channel 10s I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Overlooked for a main draw singles wildcard, Tomic would need to sign-on for qualifying on Tuesday.

Johnston said the Queenslander had committed to the Kooyong event, which features Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson.

"Bernie is definitely playing a match, late afternoon on Tuesday," Johnston said.

"We're not sure yet who he'll play but, with Australian Open qualifying starting the following day, we'll look at a match with a shortened format for him.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20: Bernard Tomic of Australia looks on as light rain begins to fall in his third round match against Daniel Evans of Great Britain on January 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20: Bernard Tomic of Australia looks on as light rain begins to fall in his third round match against Daniel Evans of Great Britain on January 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"He's keen to play."

Tomic's apparent eagerness to take to the court competitively for the first time this summer is another chapter in an elusive and highly unorthodox Open "preparation."

He rejected Lleyton Hewitt's offer to train with fellow Australians and opted out of TA's wildcard playoff - and also allegedly made disparaging comments about playoff competitors.

His attitude and questionable fitness disappointed Hewitt and performance powerbrokers Wally Masur and Jason Stoltenberg.

And it prompted Open tournament director Craig Tiley to look elsewhere with the final two discretionary wildcards.

"He's not going to get a wildcard. He'd have to go through qualifying," Tiley said.

"Qualifying starts next week ... and I would hope that Bernie would want to put himself in a position to play but he's indicated that that's likely not going to be the case.

"We've made the offer (to play in the wildcard playoff). Lleyton (Hewitt) did," Tiley said.

"We said: 'We'd just like you to play the Australian Open wildcard playoff and, if you just make yourself available and play it, you give yourself a good chance to get in'.

"We all know Bernie can play the game. He's had some great wins here. He's one of Australia's top players and we'd love to see him competing and playing."

Currently ranked No 140, Tomic, 25, did not return calls to News Limited.

He is mired in the worst form slump of a tumultuous career.

After reaching the third round of the Open last year, Tomic won just eight more matches in 2017.

He was fined a Wimbledon-record $20,000 after admitting to feigning injury and being "a little bored" during a listless first-round loss to Mischa Zverev at The All England Club.


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