MELBOURNE • Outspoken Bernard Tomic has taunted Roger Federer over his struggles against Novak Djokovic after the Swiss great candidly told the young Australian he had to knuckle down if he wanted to reach tennis' top 10.
Tomic, who has made more noise off the court than on it in his career so far, said the 17-time Grand Slam winner was "nowhere near" the world No. 1 - and insisted his own game was top-eight material.
"I think he's also far away from Djokovic as well, if he wants to say that," he told reporters at the Australian Open ahead of his last-16 clash with Briton Andy Murray today.
"If he believes I'm very far away from the top 10, I also believe my prediction that he's nowhere near Novak's tennis right now."
He was reacting to Federer's comments at this month's Brisbane International when the Swiss said the 23-year-old Australian needed to work hard all year if he wants to be a top-10 player.
POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK
If he believes I'm very far away from the top 10, I also believe my prediction that he's nowhere near Novak's tennis right now.
BERNARD TOMIC hits back at Roger Federer, who said the young Australian needed to work hard all year if he wants to be a top-10 player.
Djokovic beat Federer, 34, in two Grand Slam finals last year, a season which was dominated by the Serbian world No. 1 who only just missed out on a historic calendar-year Grand Slam.
"The year is not just one month long or one week long. It's 52 weeks. It's every day," Federer, the world No. 3, told reporters.
"That (is what) he's been struggling to show, to be quite honest .
"Many seasons now in a row we have seen or heard that top 10 is the goal, and he's missed out on it by a long shot."
Tomic, Australia's top-ranked player and currently at a career high of 17, said that Federer's criticism would serve as motivation for him to push up the rankings.
"I'm working for that. When I'm playing well, I'm a top-eight player in the world. My ranking has to get there," said the last surviving Australian man in the tournament.
"I'm going to work every day this year getting to the top 10. It's not just getting to the top 10. I'm going to get there.
"It's about staying there for a while. It's about being consistent.
"These guys that have been there the last five, six years on the tour, you have (Tomas) Berdych, (David) Ferrer, (Kei) Nishikori who have been there for a while, they're consistent.
"That's what I want to become, and possibly be even better after I get there."