It’s all piling up for Bernard Tomic after his ‘less than stellar’ effort in a straight set first round loss to German Mischa Zverev at Wimbledon. The ITF have fined him $20,000 for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ and overnight his racquet sponsor Head said ‘adios’.
Former Wimbledon Champions Becker, Cash and Newk have put their opinions forth and the Australian public isn’t showing any mercy, just have a listen to talkback radio. Tomic’s after match press conference was revealing, a therapy session for the 24 year old.
In what can be a rarity for a professional athlete, the truth actually squeezed out, when asked ‘What was the injury?’ after Tomic took a medical timeout during the match, his reply ‘I just thought I’d try to break a bit of momentum, to use that as my strategy’ which is an admission that he faked an injury. He then revealed ‘I felt a bit bored out there’, ‘its tough to find motivation’ and ‘doing well, it doesn’t satisfy me anymore’.
Such honesty was kind of refreshing, but you could see from his demeanor during the match the last place he wanted to be was on a tennis court. We all understand people can have bad days at work, productivity is low, and motivation is barely simmering but it’s rare to see a professional athlete display such traits on the world stage.
The Australian public are used to Hewitt and Rafter in recent years exhibiting heart and desire, before them came Newk, Laver and Rosewall, winning or losing with grace and fire. You can’t blame people for thinking Bernie comes across as petulant and spoilt, especially when in that same press conference he admitted ‘I’m going to play another 10 years, and I know after my career I won’t have to work again’.
What does he mean by that? I’m going to coast along, win some matches here and there, might win a tournament or two, and keep my ranking around 60, where it is now, if I feel motivated I’ll try and if I don’t so what. Is he just going to run out the clock?
Whenever I see a tennis player at the crossroads of their career I always think of Andre Agassi. The Las Vegan had talent to burn, freely admitted to not living up to it, dealt with injury, divorce, lack of motivation and after falling to 141 in the world, recommitted himself and won 5 more Slams.
Agassi could have quit, he’d been on tour 10 years already, but he didn’t, he finally wanted to do his talent justice. He didn’t know what he had until it was almost taken away from him. Will Bernie have that same ‘come to Jesus’ moment? Does he need a career threatening injury or a rankings plummet; you could say he needs perspective.
I sent a tweet suggesting Bernie ‘needs time away, a month, 6 months, a year’; he needs time to look deep within. He is only 24 years old; he has time to figure it out. Of course it’s his career, his life, with over 6 million in Prize money already and 3 career titles it’s a solid career, but nobody could say he has ‘rung every last ounce out of it’ and lived up to his talent.
Maybe he is right and can play another 10 years, make a few million more and retire in Monte Carlo; it’s a nice life, but what if the opposite happened, he took time away, found inspiration and fully dedicated himself.
No future results are guaranteed but wouldn’t he feel a lot better in retirement as he is looking out into the ocean from his Monaco villa knowing he gave it everything he could, no regrets, he did his talent justice. Who knows, there might even be a Grand Slam trophy on the mantelpiece, wouldn’t that be nice.