Column: Tomic the Tank Engine lives up to tennis nickname
That’s $15,000 that won’t find its way into Bernard Tomic’s retirement account.
The Australian is on the lookout for a new racket manufacturer, too, after being fined by Wimbledon officials and then dumped by Head for some incredibly clueless comments following his ouster from the tournament.
If not for his past, Tomic’s alleged crime would have probably been written off as just being too honest for his own good. But fellow players weren’t exactly lining up to support the petulant former junior star after he admitted to having no motivation to try and win his first round match against Mischa Zverev.
How could they, when it goes against everything they believe in tennis.
Listen to this, from someone who hits a ball back and forth for a living:
“I feel holding a trophy or, you know, doing well, it doesn’t satisfy me anymore,” Tomic said. “It’s not there. I couldn’t care less if I make a fourth-round U.S. Open or I lose first round. To me, everything is the same.”
OK, maybe he’s a bit burned out. Happens to all of us, even if we have real jobs.
But the kicker was even worse.
“You know, I’m going to play another 10 years, and I know after my career I won’t have to work again,” Tomic said.
He probably won’t, even after having $15,000 deducted from his $45,000 first-round payday. At the age of 24, Tomic has about $5 million in career winnings, and clearly he doesn’t see himself winning seven Wimbledon singles titles like Roger Federer.
This is a player, you might remember, who used the grip end of his racket to wave at the final point of a match last year, a player who lost a match in 2014 in only 28 minutes. His lack of effort on the court at times led the Aussie press to derisively label him “Tomic the Tank Engine.”
Tomic was once thought of as the next great Australian tennis player, a tough legacy for anyone to deal with. After starring in the junior ranks, he reached a high of No. 17 in the ATP rankings last year and entered Wimbledon at No. 59.
And for all of his life, he’s had to deal with an overbearing father who raised him and his sister to be tennis stars.
Somewhere, he lost the desire to compete. Somewhere, tennis became like, well, an actual job.
Still, the decision by Wimbledon to fine Tomic two days after his comments seemed a bit over the top. He wasn’t throwing coins toward the chair umpire like Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who earned a fine for his outburst, or screaming at officials for bad calls like John McEnroe loved to do in his era.
He simply didn’t care, which was deemed even worse.
Even more curious, though, was the reaction from Head, the racket manufacturer. The company seemingly couldn’t wait to dump Tomic, quickly kicking him to the curb.
“His opinions in no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism and respect for the game,” Head said in a release.
When pondering that, remember that this is the same company that stood by Maria Sharapova during her suspension from tennis for doping. The same company that publicly cheered when her suspension was reduced.
Hypocrisy reigns supreme in sports, and tennis is no exception. Sharapova is a superstar worth keeping, while Tonic is a once promising player with little upside left.
It’s too simple to write Tomic off as just another player who couldn’t handle the pressure of big time tennis. We didn’t live his childhood, and we have no real idea what’s going on in his mind.
But fans paid good money for their seats at Wimbledon and deserved a player who cared. Tomic wasn’t that player, but the irony is that if he had kept his thoughts to himself, he could have still skipped town without anyone doing much more than waving goodbye.
Maybe it was better this way. Maybe it will be a wakeup call that makes Tomic realize just how lucky he is to play sports for a living.
Otherwise, his disregard for the game may mean his plans to play another 10 years and be set for life may not pan out.
And then he might have to actually get a job.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at email@example.com or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg