Australia has dominated the tennis headlines this year. Mostly for the wrong reasons.
Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic have found themselves in trouble with just about everyone in 2015 and even managed to drag unwitting pal Thanasi Kokkinakis into it earlier in the year.
Whilst their off-court antics have been eagerly documented, their on-court actions have sometimes been overlooked – especially in the case of Bernard Tomic.
An impressive run of ten quarter-finals across the season has seen the Aussie #1 climb up to #18 in the world, quietly slipping inside the top 20.
He also claimed his 3rd ATP Title, retaining his Bogota crown in July with an excellent three set victory over Adrian Mannarino in the final.
Obviously he has a chequered past off of the court, but does that mean his silent ascension on it should go unrecognised?
After all, it is often forgotten that Bernard Tomic is just 23 years old. The fact that he won the Australian Open Junior Boys’ Champion at just 15 years of age probably explains why it feels like he has been around forever. It’s been a long and unsteady eight years since then.
Tomic is the highest ranked player under 24 but has received few plaudits compared to players around him like Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock.
Unquestionably this is down to his off-the-court problems. When a player creates controversial headlines, victories and success seem mundane and so these small victories are pushed aside in place of more ‘interesting’ headlines.
As well as that, there is probably an assumption that players such as Tomic and Kyrgios will never quite make it at the highest level due to a lack of mental fortitude.
Despite his personal life, it seems a gross injustice that Tomic’s success has been ignored as such. After all, he has had his most successive year to date.
He reached the second round of every Grand Slam for the first time and claimed three top ten scalps, twice defeating David Ferrer without dropping a set on either occasion.
Recently the Australian, alongside Nick Kyrgios, was overlooked for the Newcombe Medal, an Australian award given to the “most outstanding elite tennis player and ambassador”.
Obviously the basis for his exclusion from the award is the inclusion of the word “ambassador”, as if it was based on tennis ability he would be a leading contender.
So what should we expect from Tomic in 2016? And what should his own personal aims be?
I would be surprised if we didn’t see him make a deep Grand Slam run – maybe a quarter-final or two. He certainly appears to have addressed his previous inconsistency and this should see him cement a permanent place within the top #20 next year.
Tomic has expressed before his desire to become the world’s greatest and to win a Grand Slam. There is no reason to suggest that this will not happen in the future but 2016 is not that time.
Maybe Tomic should look a little closer to home. Maybe 2016 should be a year of maturity. Maybe his aim should simply be to get re-nominated for the Newcombe Award. Maybe then he can find redemption among tennis fans around the world and enable his success to be rightfully recognised.
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