With Australian men’s tennis on the rise again after a lean few years, Bernie Tomic goes and puts his foot in it again with some remarkably stupid comments following his failure to qualify for the 2018 Australian Open. ‘”I just count money, that’s all I do. I count my millions,” he told reporters.
The word being universally banded around at the moment is ‘sad’ after Tomic’s latest ridiculously stupid and disrespectful barb to the sport which has given him all the riches he could have only dreamt about when he was growing up. I think there are much stronger words that can be used but it is sad to see a young man, only 24 years of age, act in such an arrogant and ignorant manner.
It may well be true that he can go back home and count his millions, his cars and his houses. Whether all of these riches will be still there in a few years time remains to be seen because surely the prize money will continue to dry up and his remaining sponsors will finally pull the plug.
There are many disappointing parts to this sorry saga but what really must annoy the many great players, the journeymen as well as the greats, who have graced tennis over so many years, is that Tomic undoubtedly has talent; you don’t reach the quarterfinal of Wimbledon without having ability.
Tomic is disrespecting the players who are hovering around the men’s top 200 at the same level Tomic is currently at. The majority of these players work unbelievably hard, without any of the riches and support that Tomic has had. The question mark around prize money is particularly true at this level where players are often left wondering whether they have enough money to fly to the next tournament, let alone having the luxury of a full time coach.
Take the example of Alex De Minaur, who in stark contrast to Tomic has won the hearts of an often demanding Australian public with his displays in Sydney and his promise in giving Tommy Berdych a fight in the first round of this year’s Australian Open. There is something about De Minaur that reminds us of his mentor and tennis great, Llyeton Hewitt, in the way that he tries and fights for every point. It is early days but promising one’s for De Minaur.
Just maybe Tomic can claw back some respect and make his last few years in the sport, if he chooses to carry on, worthwhile. Tomic clearly needs some help but where from? He has fallen out with the very people who could help him, especially Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt, and the reality is that very few people will want to support him with his current attitude.
Over the years, we have seen some colourful off the court behavior with a number of Australia’s best. Remember when Mark ‘the Scud’ Philippoussis and Pat Rafter felt the effects of a decent night out in the bars of Adelaide during the 1997 Davis Cup Quarterfinal against the Czech Republic? They took to the court the next morning very much the worse for wear. The understandable backlash that came their way was entirely warranted and both learnt their lesson enough to achieve great things during their respective careers. Both continued to enjoy their time off the court; particularly the Scud, but no one can say that he did not have great career – Wimbledon and US Open final appearances are testimony to that.
As for Rafter, he became an excellent ambassador for the game as well as one of the great champions with the titles he won at the US Open in 97 and 98. The point here is that we all forgive and forget for the odd discretion, and in some ways we applaud it given the need for more characters in the game.
Sadly, Tomic only has one Wimbledon quarterfinal to his name and he is unlikely to feature in another. Ultimately, Tomic will probably retire with enough cash to last him through for the rest of his life and if that is his motivation to carry on playing tennis well then fair play, but what a waste.
Tomic would do well to remember how the likes of Pat Rafter resurrected themselves to the public as well as the sport. Rafter was renowned for giving over large amounts of his prize money to charity and famously in 2001 to a Wimbledon village pub full of Aussie fans who were drowning their sorrows having watched their hero lose to Goran Ivanisevic in one of the great Wimbledon finals.
Rafter was good enough to utilize his talent and work hard at it, as did the likes of Hewitt, Philippoussis, the Woodies and many others to then benefit from the rewards and riches that tennis can give back when you put in the hard yards.