Bernard Tomic, another member of Australian tennis’s bad boy brigade, arguably had one of his worst years to date. Unlike compatriot Nick Kyrgios, who boasts a similar fiery persona, Tomic hasn’t recorded similar results. Kyrgios combines first-round losses with tournament wins in Washington and a winning record over Novak Djokovic, validaiting his frequent tantrums with bursts of excellence. Tomic, unfortunately, only sports the first-round losses but with a higher frequency. 2019 Tomic has been Kyrgios with all bark and no bite.
Bernard Tomic in 2019
The German-born Australian has finished with his worst year-end ranking (#186) since 2010, when he was just 18. Granted, he was ranked around the 200 mark in mid-2018. But with the Australian Open approaching in a month, this is a new low for the Aussie. Tomic only accrued seven wins on the season, losing 15 matches. He has some serious work to do in 2020 to get back to his career-high ranking of #17.
Tomic’s best results this year have come at ATP 250 Tournaments in Atlanta and Antalya where he reached the quarterfinals at both. But Tomic, despite his poor year, doesn’t seem to care in the slightest. After his first-round qualifying 2018 Australian Open exit, he claimed he doesn’t care if he wins or loses, purporting, “I just count money that’s all I do…count my millions.”
A statement that seems rather funny after a year where he was fined all of his Wimbledon prize money for lack of effort and accrued a total prize of around $280,000 in 2019. An amount that when taking into account traveling, coaching and physio costs would almost certainly be closer to zero than a million.
Tomic is unlikely to receive a wild card for the first grand slam of the year due to his frosty relationship with Tennis Australia, so he will have to go through qualifying. After his first-round loss last year, he targeted Lleyton Hewitt as the main problem with Australian Davis Cup and Tennis Australia. Tomic also claimed that when he was 16 playing Davis Cup for Australia, Hewitt threatened the young Tomic in his hotel room, to tell him who disliked him in Tennis Australia and that if he didn’t tell him, he’d never play Davis Cup again.
Following his remarks in the early part of 2019, Hewitt responded saying that Tomic had sent Hewitt death threats and that with his current attitude and with Lleyton as Davis Cup captain Tomic will never play Davis Cup. Thisled to Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley writing a statement that “Bernard does not meet the standards of behavior and commitment to himself, the team or the sport” and won’t play Davis Cup.
Disregard the verity of either side’s statements for now. It is interesting to note how the rise of the “bad boy” persona in tennis has received much allure from tennis fans as long as they play an exciting brand of tennis. Also note how bad boys of yesteryear frequently come in to criticize them.
Lleyton Hewitt, in his prime, was known for his on-court antics. He was often involved in linesman controversies, once calling them “spastics” at the 2001 French Open and then while facing James Blake at the 2001 US Open claimed that a linesman was making calls favoring the American due to their similar skin color. Hewitt argued to the umpire “I’ve only been foot faulted at one end…look at him mate and tell me what the similarity is.” It seems a tad ironic that former players like Hewitt and John McEnroe seem to forget their playing days when criticizing today’s players who act just like they did years ago.
In sum, it’s been a terrible year for Tomic. 2019 was filled with losses and controversy and not much money at all. But if Tomic can turn his career around in 2020 it might prove interesting. As we’ve seen with Kyrgios, if you win, you can pull all the tantrums you want. Heck, fans will even like you more for it and come in droves to watch. A Bernard Tomic comeback would make life for Tennis Australia and Lleyton Hewitt very difficult. Tomic and Hewitt have had very unsavory moments in their careers. It’s hard to pull for either of them, but a comeback would be a fun situation to watch unfold.
Main photo from Getty.