The Curious Case of Bernard Tomic
In case you’ve been living under a rock the past month, Bernard Tomic found himself in a storm of controversy at the US Open for his performance against Andy Roddick in the second round. More accurately, his lack of performance. Having witnessed the match live, it’s safe to say that Tomic was not, *ahem*, putting forth his best effort late in the match, and went down tamely to Roddick in three sets. Did he not want to be *the guy* who sent Roddick into retirement? How noble. Was he tanking? Maybe.
Don’t tell him that, though.
Tomic lashed out at a reporter who tactfully mentioned his tanking in his press conference following the match.
Q. On television, John McEnroe said your effort in the final set was borderline not trying. What are your thoughts about that?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, I think he’s probably right. Like I said, I couldn’t get the racquet on the ball. Andy was playing I think really good at the net, coming into the net. Every time I wanted to pass him, he ended up hitting a half volley winner or a volley winner. He was on top of me the whole match. I can’t complain. The whole match was his way from start to finish pretty much.
Q. They made a pretty big deal of it on the last set, tanking, all that stuff.
BERNARD TOMIC: Really? What do you think?
Q. I’m not sure. I think your relaxed style sometimes people get the wrong impression.
BERNARD TOMIC: That’s how I play. Do you have a problem with that?
Q. No. It was on TV. It was a big deal. Better to give you the opportunity now to talk about it surely.
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, no, that’s your prediction. I have mine. That’s how I play. If you think that’s that, it’s up to you. What is your name?
BERNARD TOMIC: Will who?
Q. Will Swanton.
BERNARD TOMIC: From?
BERNARD TOMIC: I’ll remember you.
Q. Davis Cup next. What do you make of that?
BERNARD TOMIC: That’s our biggest focus, I think, the whole Australian team’s focus. Good question for asking. It’s probably the biggest thing for us Australian players. Good to see Lleyton doing well and having a chance to get back in the World Group. That’s what we’re going to work for the next week before going to Hamburg. It’s going to be tough as a team for Australia, but Pat is confident. We’re confident. We have to play against some good clay‑courters to win.
During Australia’s Davis Cup tie this past weekend, Australian captain Pat Rafter was displeased with Tomic’s antics at the US Open, and the two ‘exchanged words.’
I’d imagine that things were thrown.
”It was a big call at the US Open. I got into him,” Rafter said. ”He got pissed off and gave it to me.”
Tomic won his opening rubber against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) which leveled the tie at 1-1 after the first day. After the match, Rafter was full of praise for his young charge.
”It is the best retaliation that he [Tomic] could have done,” Rafter said. ”I was really happy for him and that was what we wanted from him. Hopefully, he can go out there on day three and do the same sort of thing.”
What a difference a day makes. After Tomic
flopped hard was defeated by Florian Mayer on day three, plunging Australia towards defeat, Tony Roche was not pleased.
“An agitated Roche appeared to be urging Tomic to a greater effort; an unimpressed Tomic shrugged and shook his head in response as he sat next to captain Pat Rafter.” (source)
I can’t fault Tomic for losing to the higher-ranked Mayer. It’s a poor matchup for him, and an even worse one on clay. Tomic has amassed an 8-2 record in Davis Cup singles, with his only losses coming to Mayer (duh) and Roger Federer.
That’s where my defense of him stops. My other feelings about Tomic are mixed. He’s a brat, yes. He has a sense of entitlement, yes. He’s obnoxious, yes. Most of this might not be his fault. His father has long proclaimed him to be the savior of Australian tennis. The media hype over him at this year’s Australian Open was unbearable. Most teenagers tend to dabble in sarcasm and brattishness.
Is he talented? I could begrudgingly admit that too.
Here’s the thing. Talent can only get him so far. Players figure him out. His weaknesses are being exposed at all levels and the tactics he banked on so much in juniors are ineffective. He seems unwilling, or even unable, to adjust. Success in juniors means nothing, as Donald Young and Grigor Dimitrov would be the first to tell you.
Here’s a novel idea. Maybe, just maybe, he isn’t the answer.
Maybe he just isn’t that good. And even if he is, he doesn’t have the mentality, at least right now, to be great. It’s time for Tomic to understand that hard work >>>>>>>> talent.
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