Heart. Everyone has one, it’s just some are bigger than others, and although I would say I’m not casting aspersions in this column, in reality I am.
If perception is reality then Bernard Tomic might have simply pulled a heart muscle last night at the Australian Open, that he had an injury there is no doubt, but how bad it truly is remains to be seen.
In Tomic’s own assessment he believed he could be good to go “in a few days” or the groin injury he has could linger.
Regardless the so-called chosen one of Australian tennis has done naught for his reputation of simply throwing the toys out of the cot when the going gets tough.
In what is a short career thus far he has been accused of not trying, tanking and simply caving in, all while living a lavish lifestyle. He’s been busted partying, allegedly more than he should, flaunting driving laws – the list goes on.
And he wonders why the crowd at Melbourne Park booed him when he retired hurt at the end of what was a pretty exciting first set of tennis (that he ultimately lost 4-6 to Rafael Nadal).
The retirement if it was a standalone effort could be forgiven but the rap sheet on Tomic is long and includes an effort at the 2012 US Open when he was accused of tanking in a humiliating second round loss to a then in decline Andy Roddick.
He’s retired in matches and often-times looked disinterested and if ever there was an occasion to stand and fight it was last night on Rod Laver Arena.
Following what was ultimately a marathon loss to Andreas Seppi it would have been hard not to be inspired by the fighting qualities displayed by former World No1 and Australian Open finalist Lleyton Hewitt, who at 32 years of age has dragged his broken and battered body through more pain and injury than Tomic could possibly know.
Hewitt left Rod Laver Arena bitterly disappointed, but to a standing ovation, his fighting spirit as always, intact. Little than a few hours later Tomic left the same arena to a chorus of boos, whether he likes it or not it’s a reaction to his character and his laconic way of handling the post-match press conference did him no favours.
Some vital snippets from Tomic were the following:
(My previous retirement in a grand slam) “That was pulling a muscle in the first point of the match at Roland Garros.”
All that comment does is raise questions about his ability to prepare and his fitness regime. Two first round injury exits in grand slams suggests an issue when you should be physically fit.
Then there was this:
“I did what’s best for me, the crowd have to understand that.”
The problem is it seems Bernie always does what’s best for Bernie in his mind on the court or off it.
If you think I’m being harsh then look at the comments of Fox Sports commentator Pat Cash, himself no stranger to an indifferent Australian public during his own career.
“He didn’t really have a chance to win that match and he knows he had a Davis Cup match coming up,” Cash said.
Fair point but what was more telling was the following comment when an image of Lleyton Hewitt playing Andreas Seppi came up.
“That guy wouldn’t have retired because of a sore leg,” Cash said of Hewitt. Truer words have never been spoken.
And therein lies my point about Tomic he lacks heart, but thankfully that was not shown to completely be the case for the next generation of Australian tennis on Day 2 at the Open.
Two young guns arguably of more promise than Tomic stood up to claim their maiden wins in their national grand slam.
Nick Kyrgios showed plenty of poise to down experienced German Benjamin Becker and while that was impressive, even better was the performance of young South Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The 17-year-old battled immense cramping. Cramping that at times caused him to fall over on court during his three-hour match with world No72 Igor Sijsling. He was in pain, he didn’t give up, and he dug in and fought for a spot in the second round where ironically enough, he himself will face Rafael Nadal.
It would take a miracle for the youngster to beat Nadal, while playing his first grand slam, but the thing is at least the public know he won’t quit on them.
Nor should they. More and more the future of Aussie men’s tennis appears to be shining bright, but I would suggest won’t be Tomic, but rather the likes of Kokkinakis, Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson who might deliver it.