Answering the key questions after Bernard Tomic’s spectacular fall from grace
Answering the key questions after Bernard Tomic’s spectacular fall from grace

Is troubled Tomic the saddest story in Australian sport?

I cannot shake the thought that Bernie Tomic is the saddest story in Australian sport.

Celebrities get asked a corny old question all the time. What would you tell your teenage self? As Tomic emerges from his hotel, blinks at the Melbourne sun and prepares for his first match of the summer on Monday, a penny for the opposite interaction between young and older. What would the starry-eyed 14-year-old Tomic say to the world-weary 28-year-old version? Probably something along the lines of, bloody hell, old mate, what happened?

George Bernie Shaw reckoned youth was wasted on the young. He was on to something when it comes to Tomic.

The 14-year-old was the best junior in the world by a million miles. So good he was signed by IMG, alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, as a sure-fire future major champion.

 

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Bernard Tomic had the tennis world at his feet in 2010.
Bernard Tomic had the tennis world at his feet in 2010.

He said in an interview that he loved tennis "from the ground to the sky. It's my soul." Now? What a sad quote that has become.

He plays Marc Polmans in one of those tournaments being played in Melbourne. The Great River Road Open. The Murray Ocean Open. I can't tell them apart.

As an athlete, Tomic ain't exactly matured like a Mount Mary cabernet. He could have been anything, this fella.

He reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals as an 18-year-old in 2011. He was the youngest quarter-finalist since Boris Becker in 1986.

He had Djokovic covered for the quality of tennis.

Inexperience did him in. At one set all on Centre Court, with Australian fans in full support - "Let's go, Bernie, let's go!" - and Djokovic throwing his hands skywards in exasperation, falling on his haunches, shaking his head, rubbing his brow, Tomic was all over him.

When Djokovic won in four tough sets, he said: "We were playing cat and mouse out there. I'm just lucky to get through."

 

Novak Djokovic shakes hands after defeating Tomic at Wimbledon in 2011. Picture: AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus
Novak Djokovic shakes hands after defeating Tomic at Wimbledon in 2011. Picture: AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

Tomic was Djokovic's regular practice partner. He's gone from playing toe-to-toe with an all-time great to bumbling from one calamity to the next.

The tank jobs and threatening to punch Lleyton Hewitt's lights out and his humiliating appearance on I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here and his free fall in the rankings to No 229. He's been ranked in the 200s before. He was 16.

Sad, all of it. I'm not buying his bravado. All he cares about is being rich? Rubbish.

I doubt he's as rich as he claims, anyway. His prizemoney hasn't exactly skyrocketed since he started hitting the skids in 2016.

Sponsors are not exactly beating down the door. He had more endorsements as a 15-year-old winner of the Orange Bowl.

I think he boasts of non-existent riches purely to piss people off.

His comments about being coached by his girlfriend cannot have been taken seriously.

He treats interviews as a bit of a joke and makes a few of his own during them.

When Tomic won his first professional tournament at the Sydney International in 2013, with his father John in the box, it looked like they were on their way. Now? The relationship status with his father is anyone's guess.

I looked up a few of Tomic's more memorable quotes on Sunday that gave a pretty accurate timeline of his career.

 

 

I wondered what the 14-year-old with the world at his feet, signed to IMG because of the prodigious talent, would think of the bloke now double his age.

Four years ago, Tomic was shown a photograph of his young ebullient self holding a trophy and talking about his sport with gushing excitement.

The love of it from ground to sky. In his soul.

He was asked what he would say to that mega-talented kid.

He replied, "I would tell my younger self, "Don't play tennis."

That's desperately sad.

 

HOW TENNIS STAR TOMIC FELL FROM GRACE

 

Five years ago Bernard Tomic was the No. 17 ranked tennis player in the world.

Now he's ranked No. 229 and is coached by his reality TV star girlfriend.

Trying to explain one of the more spectacular declines in Australian sport is not easy because nothing is easy when it comes to Tomic.

There are always more questions than answers as the bizarre outbursts and increasingly strange behaviour continues.

 

Can he still be a force on the world stage?

 

The short answer is no. The unique talent is still there but even when Tomic was one of the world's elite players - he was ranked in the top 30 for two years from 2015-2017 - his work ethic was always perceived as an issue.

He doesn't possess the power to trouble the best players and from his last eight grand slam appearances, he's only got out of the first round once (Wimbledon 2018).

Tomic, 28, has regularly bemoaned his lack of interest in tennis yet as one of his former mentors points out, he knows nothing else.

"I always worry about what Bernie is going to do when he can't play tennis," he said. "He has got nothing to fall back on as all he knows is tennis."

So the search for the next pay cheque continues.

Tomic barely picked up a racquet throughout the coronavirus pandemic lockdown which he claims has ignited his passion for the sport.

He says he's gone vegan and given up alcohol which helped his recent improved form in UTR events in Australia and culminated with three impressive three-set victories in the Australian Open qualifying tournament in Doha.

That got him into the 128-man field which means he's assured of a $100,000 payday even if he bows out in the first round.

Can Bernard Tomic compete with the world’s best?
Can Bernard Tomic compete with the world’s best?

What is his relationship with Australia's tennis hierarchy?

 

Tomic is a lone wolf.

You won't find many at Tennis Australia who will say a good word about him and he doesn't have strong friendships in the player ranks.

Nick Kyrgios recently said he "didn't mind" Tomic but the pair are far from besties while others point out that he was never really given an opportunity to cultivate proper relationships.

"He was isolated from everybody (growing up) so he's really got no social skis," one former opponent said.

"I have always felt a bit sorry for him as he had people around who were only there because of his money, they would pretend to be his friends.

"Bernie would only have people around by taking them out to restaurants or for nights out but when he stopped doing that for them they would disappear."

Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt did try a number of times to help but Tomic blew that relationship up spectacularly with an extraordinary outburst at the 2019 Australian Open.

He declared no-one liked Hewitt and even threatened to knock him out.

Bernard Tomic has fallen out with all key figures at Tennis Australia. Picture: AAP Images
Bernard Tomic has fallen out with all key figures at Tennis Australia. Picture: AAP Images

Where is John Tomic?

 

This is the million dollar question. He's gone from overbearing father and coach to vanishing without trace.

He still lives on the Gold Coast in a sizeable mansion but his hold over his son seems to have loosened.

Back in the day everything ran through John, literally everything which made things a nightmare for managers or financial advisers to create meaningful associations.

After Tomic made the quarter-final at Wimbledon at 18, the cash was rolling in. He was managed by global giant IMG and had a bevy of major sponsors including Nike and Yonex.

A penchant for fast cars ate up a lot of the money with father and son constantly bickering about what was happening with on-court earnings alone amounting to over $6 million for his career.

"Bernie would get some money and it would be gone within a day," one former insider said. "They were always having arguments about money.

"It was a really weird set-up but it was that whole thing that family is always thicker than water."

A young Bernard Tomic after winning a tournament.
A young Bernard Tomic after winning a tournament.

What impact has the new lady had in his life?

 

Vanessa Sierra isn't the first reality star Tomic has cosied up with and he has a long history of surrounding himself with young attractive wannabes.

But the Love Island star has certainly made an impact in a short space of time.

She has even had the tennis star doing soft porn on adult website OnlyFans where Sierra is a big hit.

Her quarantine lockdown video where she complained about the state of the food and not having anyone to wash her hair went viral.

Vanessa Sierra and Bernard Tomic in hotel quarantine. Picture: Supplied via NCA NewsWire
Vanessa Sierra and Bernard Tomic in hotel quarantine. Picture: Supplied via NCA NewsWire

 

Bernard Tomic and Vanessa Sierra. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Bernard Tomic and Vanessa Sierra. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Tomic has since revealed his new girlfriend is also calling the shots on the tennis court.

"My girlfriend's coaching me actually," Tomic told AAP.

"She's just helping me with a few things. We've managed to win eight matches. Quite good, it's a new tactic for 2021."

It's those types of comments which leave the tennis establishment just shaking their heads.

But they know something even more bizarre is just around the corner for the player they once saw as a future multiple grand slam winner.

Originally published as Is troubled Tomic the saddest story in Australian sport?



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