Time out: Tennis players need to lift their game

BERNARD Tomic shocked the nation when he came out and said last week that this year hasn’t been his best.

Ya reckon Bernie?

A month ago he was accused of tanking a match at the US Open. He said he wasn’t. 

You probably do need to have a good, hard look at yourself when you contend you were playing your best, but it’s so bad people think you couldn’t possibly be trying.

In that case, I tank my squash matches every week. 

It comes weeks after he was branded “disgraceful” by Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter.

You know you’ve reached new lows when the easy-going Queenslander, possibly the nicest guy in tennis, is publicly berating you for being sub-par.

Then this week Tomic said he was only operating at “85 per cent” in his match against Florian Mayer. 

He only won eight points in the last set, losing 6-4 6-0. 

So going on that ratio, even at 100 per cent he would win roughly 10 points in the set. Two games if lucky. Aiming high, Bernard.

It confounds me that an elite athlete, one whom Tennis Australia has been ploughing money into for years, would admit that he really does not give two hoots about a match.

It opens the can of worms about just how bad Australian tennis has become. 

This year has been particularly dire in a bad decade for Aussie tennis.

Sam Stosur had one of her worst years in a long time. 

Since her victory at the US Open last year, it’s gone from bad to worse for Sam. 

At her best, she can beat anyone. At her worst, it’s a very real possibility she could lose to someone ranked outside the top 1000.

Outside of that, we have barely anyone in the top 100, and are relying on Lleyton Hewitt on one foot to fill the highlight reel.

Gone are the glory years of Australian tennis, especially the men’s. 

Those were the late 1990s and early 2000s when we were actually in the World Group of Davis Cup, rather than wallowing year after year in the lowly group stages, unable to get past Kazakhstan.

Remember those good old days?

Rafter, sweat dripping off his bushy beard, serving and volleying his way to the top of the world, making the nation stay up late to watch the epic 2001 Wimbledon final against Croatian wild man Goran Ivanisevic. 

Lleyton Hewitt, with his long, blonde curly hair tamed by a backwards cap; an obnoxious, yet victorious, brat.

Mark “Scud” Philippoussis, sending down the aces and going on incredibly bad dating shows.

Even the second tier of players had their moments. 

Andrew Ilie would inevitably win at least two matches at the Australian Open and rip open his T-shirt, to the euphoria of the crowd. 

Wayne “King” Arthurs would make a charge in the early rounds of Wimbledon with his big, sliding left-handed serves.

Even a young Chris Guccione would beat a top-10 player at the Sydney International every year, then proceed to get flogged by an unknown Venezuelan qualifier the next round.

It was fun.

Now there are no such characters and no chances of winning.

For years we have been waiting for the “next big thing” and post-Wimbledon 2011 it really looked like that thing would be Tomic.

But at 19 years old, it really doesn’t look as though he has the mental capacity to reign supreme. 

He is young, but bear in mind that Lleyton Hewitt was world number one at a similar age. 

Say what people may about Lleyton, and there are some harsh critics out there, you could never accuse him of playing at 85 per cent.

The master of the five-setter still gives his all and an increasing number of fist pumps every time he’s on court.

C’mon (staring intensely at one bent hand) Bernard, lift your game!


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