PARIS, May 26, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Bernard Tomic came through qualifying at the French Open on Friday to set up a first round clash with Australian compatriot, and fellow troubled soul, Nick Kyrgios.
Tomic, like Kyrgios a former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, arrived in Paris having played just once on the main tour all year and seeing his world ranking slip to a demoralising 243.
But he booked a place in the main Roland Garros draw for the eighth successive season without dropping a set and will tackle childhood friend Kyrgios in the first round.
Although the two men were once close, Kyrgios became disenchanted with Tomic’s attitude to the sport in 2017.
Last year at Wimbledon, the former world number 17 was fined for claiming he was bored by tennis and had faked an injury. His racquet sponsor dropped him as a result.
Earlier this year, Tomic even appeared on reality TV show, ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here’.
Last year Kyrgios, no stranger himself to controversy, blasted Tomic.
“Bernie has lost his way. We were pretty good mates when I was younger,” said Kyrgios.
“But a lot has changed since then. He needs to figure out what he wants to do.
“He says tennis doesn’t make him happy, that he doesn’t really like the game, yet he says the only thing that will really make him happy is winning a Grand Slam. It doesn’t make sense at all.”
Tomic reached the Roland Garros first round Friday with a 7-6 (7/5) 7-5 victory over Goncalo Oliveira.
He and 21st seed Kyrgios, who has been laid low recently with an elbow injury, have never met on the main tour.
Also reaching the main draw on Friday was Ernests Gulbis who will take on Gilles Muller, the man who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon last year, in the first round.
Gulbis, a former world number 10, famously knocked Roger Federer out of the French Open in 2014 on his way to the semi-finals.
But his fortunes have nose-dived since and the 29-year-old Latvian arrived in Paris ranked at 162.
Women’s 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone defied her 38 years to reach the main draw for the 18th time.
The Italian, a former world number four who flirted with retirement last year, eased to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Evgeniya Rodina of Russia in the final qualifying round.
Before this week, Schiavone had lost all six matches she had played this year.
“Yeah it’s fantastic. It’s a big present for me. It’s a tough moment so to enjoy this is amazing,” Schiavone told www.rolandgarros.com.