Bernard Tomic is expected to fly off to the South African jungle in the coming days, as a contestant on the local version of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here. And he might want to stay there, after yet another public-relations disaster provoked outrage around Australia.
After much to-ing and fro-ing, Tomic – whose ranking has dropped to No. 142 – did eventually bestir himself to take part in the Australian Open’s qualifying tournament last week. He won two matches before going down to a narrow defeat on Sunday against 22-year-old Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
Then came the latest Tomic own goal. Pursued off the court by a TV crew, he told the man with the microphone “I just count money, that’s all I do. I count my millions.”
This obsession with financial worth has become a Tomic trope since he began to lose his appetite for the game last year. After collecting a fine of £11,200 from Wimbledon – where he admitted to feeling “bored” during his first-round defeat – he told the Sunday Herald Sun: “You guys can only dream about having what I have at 24. End of the day, don't like me or whatever. Just go back to dreaming about your dream car or house while I go buy them.”
The irony is that few people in tennis believe that Tomic is particularly wealthy. Yes, he might have run up career earnings of close to £4m. But this is a notoriously expensive sport to pursue, and he is also prone to dropping A$50,000 in a night on the town – as he did at Melbourne’s exclusive Bond nightclub in September. The whole thing comes across as a desperate plea for attention.
Tomic’s loss of form and dignity seems particularly sad when you remember what an exciting prospect he once was, reaching the fourth round here as a 19-year-old in 2012. Now his toxic behaviour looks all the poorer when placed alongside the humility and charm of Australia’s latest up-and-coming teenager Alex De Minaur, the 18-year-old who reached the final of the Sydney International last week.
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De Minaur has pulled a horrible first-round draw out of the hat, in the shape of 19th seed Tomas Berdych. But after beating players as good as Milos Raonic and Fernando Verdasco since the start of the year, he can’t be counted out.
“I just want to have a good match against Berdych,” De Minaur said yesterday. “I want to leave it all out there, compete every point, give myself the best opportunity I can to play well.” Tomic could learn much from the new boy’s example.