Bernard Tomic in round one action. Photo: Getty ImagesOK, Bernie, bring it in tight.
Mate, you will recall that time we spoke in person, in that Gold Coast restaurant, you challenged me as to why I write “all that shit” about you. I replied that it’s because, just as your job is to deliver overhead smashes, my job occasionally entails that too. It’s a living.
But now, here we are again.
As you know, right now you are the talk of the tennis world once more, and not in a good way.
After drifting to a dull first-round defeat at Wimbledon, you proceed to unload, as the cameras rolled, on just how bored you are with the whole tennis thing, you know? Yes, for others, playing at Wimbledon might be the goal of their existence, their highest attainment, and for others evenattendingWimbledon as a spectator is right up there on their bucket list.
But not you. You’re a bit too … good for that?
“I don’t know why, but I felt a little bit bored out there, to be completely honest with you,” you said. “This is my eighth Wimbledon, or ninth I think … and it’s tough to find motivation … I couldn’t care less if I make a fourth-round US Open or I lose first round … I believe you have to respect the sport, but I think I don’t respect it enough. I just believe playing many years on tour now has sort of taken a toll …”
And yes, you have your critics on Twitter, you noted, but those losers you reckon, are likely just out there, “somewhere, making $50 an hour”.
Mate, what is goingon?
For me, your comments were like a series rocket-flare soaring high over the raging sea, on a dark and stormy night – nothing less than endless cries for help.
To play Sigmund for a moment, no one could utter such endless quotes – each one a stick of lit dynamite dropped casually down your own tennis shorts – without there being something seriously wrong.
The American tennis writer Ben Rothenberg nailed it when, speaking on 3AW, he said of your performance, “He went straight into sabotaging himself and couldn’t shovel fast enough. Everything he said was just designed to cause trouble for him – it was an impressive amount of self-flagellation.”
Exactly. Or maybe a worrying amount of self-flagellation. This wasn’t a racist, sexist, homophobic or bigoted dickhead inadvertently revealing himself to be sexist, racist, homophobic or bigoted – the usual source of controversial comments by sportsmen. This was damn nigh calculated, verbalhara-kiri.
As I say, endless cries for help.
All right, so here it is.
Mate, stand down. Take a year off. Get totally away from tennis. Find yourself. Neither you nor Nick Kyrgios has ever really had the chance to grow up and make the same mistakes other young men your age make, away from public scrutiny, and clearly have no one in your entourage, or even perhaps in your own family to grip you by the shoulders and tell you the things you need to be told.
So get away from it. Have a year when you don’t pick up a racquet. If you want, go trekking in Nepal. Or back-packing in Chile. Work on a kibbutz in Israel.
Fall in love with a Norwegian woman in Japan, and have your heart broken by a Burmese princess in Patagonia. Live! Breathe! Move!
Your every comment screamed, “I am so bored with this whole f—ing thing, I just can’t stand it any more,” and on one level that is even admirable. But only if you take it to that level, and actuallydoget away from it.
But, one way or another, youcannotgo on making a complete dick of yourself the way you do. For one thing, tennis won’t let you.
You blithely say you can keep doing what you’re doing for another 10 years if you want, and you’ll have made enough money that you won’t have to work, but you are mistaken.
With your publicly professed attitude, tennis cannot afford to have you there. You are anathema to everything it stands for. The man who defeated you in that first round, Mischa Zverev, noted of you, after your comments, “Let’s say he’s the opposite of, let’s say, Rafa.”
And while tennis finds ever more ways to send Rafael Nadal tens of millions of dollars because he represents everything that makes the sport great, it will find ways to send you to Coventry – look it up – because you represent everything that makes people turn away from the sport, by saying and doing things people didn’t even know was possible from a professional athlete.
And there really is another way. Instead of being bored all the time, and dully saying you guess you can make enough money, so you won’t have to work – in which case I guess you’ll still be as bored as you seemed to me to be that day on the Gold Coast – find something you reallyarepassionate for. Move beyond your founding premise that a job is something it is goodnotto have to do. As they say, find a job that you love, and you’ll never work again!
But, right now, that clearly ain’t tennis. So get away from it. Discover a love for tennis, or for something else. But you cannot go on like this.
Stand down, young man. And good luck.