Tennis star Bernard Tomic is the kind of sports player that many of us can relate to - he's petulant, moody and negative
PUBLISHED: 10:06 08 July 2019
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Tennis player Bernard Tomic is a tonic for anyone who is a bad loser, moody or just plain apathetic - he's just been fined his entire match fee for not making an effort at Wimbledon, I think I could do that too.
We've all been there - lots of you tell me you think I go there every single week when I write this column - sometimes you go to work, you do your job but your heart's not in it and you put in a day at the grindstone which is distinctly below par.
This week, Bernard Tomic, the self-styled "bad boy for tennis" has been fined a hefty £45,000, the highest cash penalty in Wimbledon history for a lack of effect in his first round clash in the tournament.
The Australian had his entire first round winnings docked for failing to "meet the required professional standard" in his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last Tuesday, beating the previous record for a single fine which was given to Fabio Fognini in 2014 after he threw his racket on the grass and shouted at the umpire: that cost him £19,100.
In last week's match, Tomic barely jogged to return some balls and tapped others straight into the net with the all the enthusiasm as a hostage tape participant - it took just 58 minutes for him to lose 6-2 6-1 6-4, although to be fair, I could have lost that match far faster: but then I do give 110 per cent at all times.
At the post-match press conference, Tomic defended his game thus: "I played pretty bad. I just played terrible. I returned pretty bad, it was a pretty terrible match." This, incidentally, would also mirror any post-match press conference that I would ever give after any tennis game whatsoever.
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A club spokesman said: "All players are expected to perform to a professional standard in every Grand Slam match. With respect to First Round Performance, if in the opinion of the Referee the player did not perform to the required professional standard, the Referee may determine that the player be subject to a fine of up to first round prize money."
I can't help but warm to Tomic, who seems to approach playing sport with the same kind of verve that I used to, albeit it is his job while for me it was just a form of ritualised torture at school - he is, finally, a sports player that I can relate to, as opposed to the scarily committed, passionate ones who give impossible percentages to all tasks and have the mesmeric appeal of a brick.
Tomic is a tonic to those of us that can't always raise our game and, more to the point, can't mask that fact - inspirational sports players are everywhere, ones that point out that what they do is a job, and sometimes a really difficult, boring job, at that, are far more relatable.
In 2017, Tomic was dropped by his sponsor for faking an injury and saying he was "a little bored" after a match and he gave an incredible interview on primetime Australian TV in which he admitted he was only playing for the money, had no love for the game that has earned him millions and told fans to stay at home rather than pay to watch him play.
"Throughout my career I've given 100 per cent. I've given also 30 per cent. But if you balance it out, I think all my career's been around 50 per cent," Tomic said, "I haven't really tried, and [still] achieved all this. So it's just amazing what I've done."
And when asked what advice he'd give himself if he talk to 14-year-old Bernard, he was blunt: "Don't play tennis. Do something you love and enjoy, because it's a grind, and it's a tough, tough, tough life. My position, I'm trapped. I have to do it. Tennis chose me. It's something I never fell in love with."
If I had to give advice to my 14-year-old self, I'd say: "don't write about Wimbledon being spiced up by someone being really childish and moody, tennis fans won't like it. And don't EVER say anything about Paul McCartney's hair". That's another story, though.