Day two at Wimbledon was much crazier than day one.
Between the injury retirements and Bernard Tomic’s interesting revelations during his press conference, there was plenty to cover and hardly enough time to dissect it all properly.
He said he was bored, he admitted to gamesmanship, he confessed he didn’t have enough respect for the sport, added that he felt “super old”, then said winning trophies doesn’t satisfy him anymore. That’s Tomic’s post-defeat press conference on Tuesday in a nutshell.
The never-too-far-from-controversy Aussie beat Mischa Zverev five days ago in Eastbourne then lost tamely to the German at Wimbledon in the first round. Tomic looked despondent during the match and later listed the reasons mentioned above.
The thing with Tomic is, he gets you to appreciate his refreshing honesty, while simultaneously infuriating you, yet somehow succeeds in getting you to – for a moment – empathise with him. He’s a confusing character who instills confusing emotions in you.
He’s obviously demotivated, but amidst the madness that was his press conference, he touched upon the fact that he is only 24 but already feels ancient in the sport. His compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis later attested to that, saying “I feel like Bernie has been playing Wimbledon since he was about 11”.
Tomic is not the first or last tennis player to be thrust onto the big stage from a young age. But not everyone is equipped to deal with that in the right way, and he clearly has struggled with it.
This is a guy who gained direct entry into the Australian Open junior tournament when he was just 14 years old and won the title there the following year at 15. He won a second junior Slam at 16 then burst onto the men’s circuit by reaching the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finals as an 18-year-old.
Tomic had made his professional debut at 15, which means at 24, he’s been on tour for nine years. He described himself as “super talented” and he’s not wrong but that “super talent” has only got him to No17 in the world and earned him three ATP titles. Surely he could have done more by now.
It makes you wonder how his career has been managed from such a young age and whether the opportunities that come with playing for Australia, which gives you the chance to get wildcards for the Slams very early in your journey, are more harmful than beneficial for someone like Tomic.
The easy explanation is that Tomic’s heart is simply not in it. But if he hasn’t quit yet, while being this demotivated, then something must still be tying him to the sport.
He claims he wants to play for 10 more years in order to earn enough money so he would never have to work again after that. So we know that at least money can motivate him.
The problem is, if he’s feeling burnt out, that’s not an easy thing to fix.
Tomic has played 322 tour-level matches. If you compare him to another 24-year-old like Jack Sock for example, you’ll see that Tomic has played 93 more tour-level matches than the American.
There are grounds for Tomic to feel this way but it’s also alarming how it seems no one around him is addressing this (Aussie media have nicknamed him ‘Tomic the Tank Engine’). If you can’t get pumped up for a tournament like Wimbledon, when you’re a natural on grass, then there is definitely something wrong.
Time will tell if Tomic will be able to figure out what it really is and how he can fix it.
Moving to the far opposite side of the motivation spectrum, we enter Roger Federer’s press conference, where the 35-year-old Swiss was asked about how it felt when he was world No1 and whether it was a sweeter feeling occupying that spot, or chasing it.
“It feels better to be No1 than No5. I mean, I’m happy right now in the situation I find myself in. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I’m back at Wimbledon. I just won my first round,” said the 18-time Grand Slam champion.
“The times when I was world No1, it felt great. It’s sort of achieving the impossible, showing up when everybody feels you’re the favourite, everybody believes that you should win or have to win. I don’t know, I kind of enjoyed that part of playing.
“But then again, it’s secondary to the love for the game I have, how much I love winning. Rankings get shoved a little bit aside for me at this stage of my life.”
Elsewhere Grigor Dimitrov spoke about the day he spent with the Beckhams, giving Romeo Beckham a tennis lesson.
“Romeo, he’s a very talented kid. I think he hasn’t played tennis for that long, but he sure showed I think a lot of potential,” said the Bulgarian after his first round win on Tuesday.
“Yeah, I just wanted to do something nice for him. He came to quite a few of my matches I think on the days. Yeah, glad to spend also some time with Victoria and get to know the family from close.”
1 – of nine Australians who started Wimbledon is still standing – Arina Rodionova. The rest all lost in their first rounds
7 – match points Juan Martin del Potro needed to close out his match against Thanasi Kokkinakis
8 – first-round retirements by players at Wimbledon across both men’s and women’s singles draws.
13 – months since Ernests Gulbis had last won a tour-level main draw match
85 – Wimbledon match wins for Federer after his victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov via retirement on Tuesday.
Just done Rafa Nadal's shopping for him on the self service tills on the tesco express in Wimbledon village. Surreal. pic.twitter.com/8762fxkpOc— Nick Roberts (@followthatnick) July 4, 2017
Ons Jabeur described Svetlana Kuznetsova as “the best physically” on tour after the Tunisian Wimbledon debutante made a first round exit at the All England Club on Tuesday.
Jabeur, who is the first Arab woman since 2005 to feature in the Wimbledon main draw, lost 6-3, 6-2 to the seventh-seeded Kuznetsova in a 65-minute contest on Court No. 2.
The 22-year-old is renowned for her deft touch, clever drop shots and unorthodox game, but Kuznetsova had an answer for Jabeur’s every trick. After waiting all day for the three previous matches to be completed on that court, the pair put on an entertaining show just in time to beat the darkness.
“Honestly I wanted to play much better than today. The draw is not so good, it’s not easy to play No7 in the world but that’s tennis and I have to accept this. We played a little bit late so it was kind of tough,” Jabeur told Sport360.
“I was trying to be there, to be more stable on the court because I felt a little bit like not getting my feet down and stuff. I didn’t play as good as my qualifying matches but it’s a different player, different conditions.
“I tried my best, I tried to mix, to slice, to drop shot. She was really fast, I was not expecting this, either the reaction was good or she runs really fast. I think she’s the best physically in the circuit. Her reaction is really fast.”
Jabeur is on the brink of breaking the top-100 for the first time and is enjoying a year of breakthroughs, having reached the third round at Roland Garros a few weeks ago to become the first-ever Arab woman to make that stage at a Grand Slam.
Her game, theoretically, should be great for grass and although she hasn’t played much on the surface, she is looking forward to achieving strong results on it in the future.
“I’m happy to be here, to have played my first Wimbledon draw,” said Jabeur.
“Grass is a tricky surface but with my game, everyone tells me ‘oh grass, it’s your surface, you should play easy here, with your eyes closed’. I like to play on grass, maybe because I like football, putting on the grass shoes I feel like a football player, which is something I like so much.
“So moving on grass is something special for me, except it’s a bit slippery sometimes. I enjoy grass a lot and honestly I’m looking forward to playing next year and the year after and I hope I’m going to have very good results on grass.”
Jabeur slipped and fell early in the second set against Kuznetsova and admits her hip is a little sore. She’s hoping it’s not something serious and is looking to get her body ready for the US hard-court season.
Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist (2003, 2005, 2007), was impressed by Jabeur’s talent.
“I felt like she had nothing to lose. I saw, she was playing so free. Her hand was going and she made some amazing shots,” said Kuznetsova, who was just the third top-10 player Jabeur had ever faced.
“But I felt like, and I know that I’m more consistent and I got to be there all the time, I held my serve, I didn’t do any double faults, I maintained a high percentage of the first serve. I was struggling on return, I wasn’t doing returns so well and second set I started just more calm and it worked for me better.”
Asked about Jabeur’s potential and whether she sees her as a future top-50 player, Kuznetsova said: “It’s a lot of work, if she’s willing to do it. But she’s got to improve more, definitely she has a chance. It depends on the draws and some other things. It’s a lot of work but if she’s willing to do it, then why not? I think she has talent, but it’s a lot of work.”
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic barely had to break sweat to make winning starts at Wimbledon as their injury-hit opponents retired hurt from their first round matches on Tuesday.
Federer is chasing a record eighth Wimbledon title and he was already well on top at the start of his 19th All England Club campaign when Alexandr Dolgopolov was forced to quit with an ankle injury.
The world No5 raced into a 6-3, 3-0 in 43 minutes on Centre Court before the Ukrainian limped off.
Federer, who hit his 10,000th career ace in the eighth game of the first set, will face either Dusan Lajovic for a place in the last 32.
"I felt like there was a bit of a letdown from the crowd. They couldn't believe that it happened again, exactly the same situation," said Federer, who recorded his 85th match win at Wimbledon, passing the mark he shared with Jimmy Connors.