Sydney - Australia's top-ranked player Bernard Tomic believes the sport's young brigade is starting to close the gap on the world's big guns, although he concedes Novak Djokovic looks unbeatable.
Tomic, in good form this year, said Canadian Milos Raonic's victory over Roger Federer in the Brisbane final last weekend was a shot in the arm for those knocking of the door, such as himself, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, and Nick Kyrgios.
"It was a confidence boost," Tomic said in the Sydney Morning Herald Thursday.
"I think they played so many times. I think Roger was 6-1 record or 5-1 against him. So I think that's also a good sign for us.
"Not just for Milos winning that tournament. It gives us confidence stepping on the court against Federer, (Andy) Murray, and against these other guys."
Tomic, seeded 16 for the Australian Open next week, lost to Raonic in two tie-break sets in the Brisbane semi-finals, and has continued his solid early season form at the Sydney International, where he has reached the last eight.
While he feels the gap could be closing on the likes of Federer, Murray and Rafael Nadal, he admits Djokovic is in another league.
"Yeah, Novak, it's just a joke now," Tomic said of the Serb, seeded one for the opening Grand Slam of the year which begins on Monday.
"It's amazing what he's doing. That's the reason why he's the best player in the world.
"I think even Roger and Rafa... when you step on the court against Novak now it's like, 'how can you beat him?'.
"I think the other players, there are a little bit more weaknesses and stuff. There is a reason why Novak is the best: no weaknesses. I can't think of any. He deserves to be there."
Djokovic destroyed Nadal in the Qatar Open final this month 6-1, 6-2 in his Grand Slam warm-up tournament, with the Spaniard describing his rival's game as "perfect".