Tomic upbeat after booking Sydney semifinal

ANGELA HABASHY
Last updated 03:36 10/01/2014

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A confident Bernard Tomic says bring on the big guns at the Australian Open with the youngster feeling he's playing better, smarter tennis as he vies to defend his Sydney International title.

Tomic booked his place in the semi-finals with a clinical victory over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov on Thursday night.

The world No 52 Australian needed just over an hour to post the 6-4 6-3 triumph at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.

In six previous encounters Tomic had only managed one win - a five-set slog in the third round of the 2012 Australian Open - but on Thursday night made light work of the Ukrainian.

Tomic will now take on Sergiy Stakhovsky for a spot in the decider after the Ukrainian easily accounted for fellow Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-4 6-3 in the last quarter-final.

"I knew it was going to be difficult, I don't like playing him," Tomic said.

"My record is not good against him but I played the right tennis today to win. I was very focused and very clear what I needed to do."

Tomic opened his title defence with an equally convincing win over eighth-seeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers before being pushed to three sets by Slovenian qualifier Blaz Kavcic on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old, who won his sole title in Sydney last year, says he's learned to play better percentage tennis and remain focused.

"The big points you need to play what you feel like is going to win you more," he said.

"I think I always played the wrong sort of points at the wrong times and I ended up having a big mistake.

"You want to play the right points at the right time and stay solid throughout the match.

"You want to relax and go for your shots and have a clear mind. That's very important."

Tomic has so far posted strong results at the Australian Open, losing to Roger Federer in the third round and fourth rounds the past two years and to Rafael Nadal in the third round in 2011.

And with the draw to be announced on Friday Tomic says he's not worried about facing similar big names early on.

"You want to try and avoid the big guys, but if you're confident, if you're doing the right things, and you feel fit, why not playing them the first round or two?," he said.

"If that happens I have to play someone big, it's an opportunity."

Earlier towering Argentine Juan Martin del Potro won through to the semi-finals with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Czech Radek Stepanek.

He'll play Russian Dmitry Tursunov who enjoyed a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win over Uzbek Denis Istomin.

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- AAP

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