Those That Have It. Those That Don’t.

By Jane Voigt

July 4, 2017 — David Ferrer and Bernard Tomic are not cut from the same cloth; and, their differences were on stark display today, during their first-round matches at Wimbledon. 

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David Ferrer at the 2013 Western & Southern tournament, Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo credit tennisclix.com.

Ferrer, the consummate fighter, came into Wimbledon unseeded for the first at any major since 2005. At 35, the Spaniard has reached the tippy top of the men’s rankings: No. 3; and, he’s successfully reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2012 and 2014. He is respected by his peers for his grit, persistence, commitment to tennis and humility. 

Today he defeated Richard Gasquet, a 2-time semifinalist at Wimbledon and the 22nd seed 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. Ironically, the Frenchman had not lost in his opening round at Wimbledon since 2006. His game is much more suited to grass than Ferrer’s, as well, who has a keen preference for red clay and hard courts. The upset must have put big smile on Ferrer’s face, having had months of matches that didn't live up to results from previous years.  

Ferrer won because he is dogged in his pursuit of points. He’s out there to get the job done, no matter how long it takes or how much energy he has to exert.

Bernard Tomic is about as far away from dogged as a elephant is to an ant. The guy just doesn’t care. 

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Bernard Tomic played fellow Aussie, Leyton Hewitt, at the 2015 U. S. Open. Their second-round match was a classic. Hewitt fought hard to extend it to five sets, but came up short. It was Hewitt’s last Open. He retired the following January, after the Australian Open.
Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com

Today, he lost in under 90 minutes to Misha Zverev (No. 27) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. 

“I felt a little bored out there,” Tomic said, as reported by the BBC. “The last sort of year or two, nothing motivates. It’s not I don’t give my best. I still try to go for it, in a way.”

He tries to “go for it, in a way.” What the heck does that mean? 

Zverev explained to the Daily Express that his task was more difficult due to the indifference shown by Tomic who, last week, beat the German at a grass-court warmup in Eastbourne. 

“I don’t know what was wrong with him,” Zverev said. “But, I could definitely tell he was not 100 percent. But, then, on the other hand it kind of made it almost tougher for me because I didn’t know what to expect. Between points he was walking slowly and he definitely acted like something was wrong.”

Tomic called the doctor, at one point during the match.

“But then he would still, you know, if the ball is within reach, he would still hit the ball hard, especially with the forehand,” Zverev continued. “He’d place it well and hit a lot of winners.”

Welcome to the wondrous world of Bernie Tomic where apathy and a large paycheck motivate a guy who, at 24, has fallen well short of expectations and flaunts it on court in front of fans who have forked out lots of cash for their tickets. 

“I think I don’t respect the sport enough,” Tomic said, as reported by the BBC. “You know, I’m going to play another 10 years, and I know after my career I won’t have to work again.” 

Australia is one proud tennis nation. Think Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, John Newcombe, Samantha Stosur, and Leyton Hewitt. So when Tomic won the U.S. Open and Australian Open junior titles, his career path seemed obvious. Not so far. He’s won 3 ATP titles and slipped from No. 17 in early 2016 to No. 59 today. 

Twitter posts from fellow Aussies spread across the Internet, as disappointment rose. One person wrote that ‘Tomic would have to be the laziest tennis player to ever step foot on court. I am embarrassed to call him a fellow Aussie at the moment.’ Another posted ‘Can we deport Bernard Tomic?’

His lackluster tennis career also has been marred by controversial incidents off court. He’s been booted off the Australian Davis Cup Squad, after accusing them of abandonment after hip surgery. He couldn’t commit to the Rio Olympics in 2016 due to his ‘busy schedule.’ And, he’s been charged with resisting arrest and trespassing. 

John Tomic, his father and on-again off-again coach, has struck his son on court when upset with his performance. In 2013 right before the Madrid Open, Tomic Sr. punched Bernie’s hitting partner in the face, drawing an 8-month prison sentence. The ATP immediately banded him from that tournament and later extended the ban for a year. During that time, Bernie said he’d struggled without his father’s on-site coaching. 

Can this abusive relationship be at the bottom of his tanking and boredom? It certainly doesn't give him much support and leaves him with no direction unless it’s condoned by his father. 

Tomic should take a page, well maybe a book, from Ferrer’s career. This guy goes out on court after losing a match to practice a shot he fouled up, during the match. Andy Murray has called him one of the toughest players on tour. 

“Ferrer has a great attitude on the court,” Murray said at The Miami Open in 2013, which he won by beating Ferrer in a tricky 3-setter. “He fights for every point.” 

Tomic, though, has no sense of what it takes to be a winner. And, unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to want to know. 

He will be around for those 10 years, as he said. He does want the money after all. But he won’t be a champion. And, he’s no David Ferrer. 

“I can’t find commitment to work hard and lift trophies,” he told the press, after his match today, as if working hard lead to trophy lifting. Expectations are a terrible thing. Delusion is another matter altogether. 

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013