AUSTRALIA’S men have suffered their worst Wimbledon campaign since 1938.
Exits for Bernard Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt and Matt Ebden on Tuesday left Australia without a men’s singles representative in the second round at the All England Club for the first time since World War II.
Hewitt was last to go, falling 6-3 6-4 6-4 to French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after Tomic suffered a head-spinning 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 defeat to Belgian wildcard David Goffin and Ebden lost 6-1 6-3 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 against Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Tomic’s sorry demise was also a costly one personally after the exciting teenager last year became the youngest quarter-finalist at the All England Club since Boris Becker in 1986.
His failure to defend those points will lead to a tumble down the standings from No.28 in the world to outside the top 40 – or worse.
“It’s hard. To see what you did last year and to lose first round is difficult,” Tomic said.
“But there’s a reason why I lost, I have to say. I think I lost because he played much better and I wasn’t playing the right tennis. No excuse.
“The last few weeks have been a little bit tough on me. I have gone through a match where I should have won and been sick for a week.
“But, look, I take that as a learning curve. You’re not going to improve unless you learn.
“That’s why it’s important for me at a young age – for any player that’s young – is to, I think, lose. You’re only going to come back stronger if you keep losing.
“I can’t say anything wrong. He played well today from the second set onwards.”
After taking the first set, Tomic was unable to cope with Goffin’s deceptive power and relentless retrieving on Wimbledon’s so-called graveyard court number two.
Despite his own lowly ranking of No.70 in the world, Goffin arrived in London with high hopes after bursting to prominence with an eye-catching run from qualifying to the last 16 at the French Open.
Showcasing his talents, the 21-year-old took the opening set off Roger Federer at Roland Garros before the Swiss maestro finally eliminated Goffin in four.
Tomic was favoured to have too many guns for Goffin on grass, but the Belgian barely missed and scrambled like a terrier to have Australia’s 20th seed under enormous pressure throughout.
Tomic’s frustrations boiled over after he dropped serve in the opening game of the pivotal third set and he obliterated his racquet, resulting in a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.
His departure left the Queenslander without a single win from three grasscourt tournaments since the French Open.
He quit mid-match against Tommy Haas in his opening match at Halle before blowing a big lead in a first-round loss to Italian Fabio Fognini at Eastbourne last week.
Tomic conceded he was only 70 to 80 per cent fit entering Wimbledon after battling a virus post-French Open.
He was clearly struggling physically as he gasped for air and clutched his lower back early in the third set.
He bravely tried to stay in the match but was unable to convert either of two break-back chances in the third set as Goffin closed in on another big scalp.
The Belgian, whose power off the ground defies his lightweight 68kg frame, refused to yield and he claimed the decisive break in the third game of the fourth set and held firm to serve out the match after two and a half hours. – AAP