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.
HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE BERNIE?
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.
THAT NO1 FEELING
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.”
SMASH IT LIKE BECKHAM
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.”
STATS OF THE DAY
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.
TWEET OF THE DAY
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