Celebrity Tomic already “outta here”

Bernard Tomic lasted just a three days in the jungles of South Africa.

His stint in the Aussie version of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” is already over after he became the first contestant to just walk out on the show.

Normally, players get eliminated on the basis of their failure to complete challenges, as part of the counting down to the winner that will be declared in about six weeks.

It was, not unexpectedly, a bit of a train wreck even if it was surprisingly revealing about the 25-year-old’s current state of mind.

This was not a surprise to most paying attention. But Tomic’s stint was even shorter than that of, say, American comedian Tom Arnold, who was the first one eliminated during the 2017 edition of the show.

And, in the process, as his conversations with his fellow campmates were broadcast on this live show, Tomic’s struggles with his life and his tennis life became cannon fodder for the Aussie media.

During his brief time in the jungle, he told the other contestants he was “depressed” on several occasions. And in his “exit interview” he said he had serious reservations about even travelling to South Africa in the first place to appear on the show.

“After being there for a couple of days it made me depressed, and it made me a bit sad, and I didn’t want to continue doing that for myself. I needed to get back on the court. I definitely don’t see myself as quitting here, I see myself as making this wrong choice before I headed into this jungle,” he said. 

Tomic got off to a weak start on the show, failing on his first challenge. Clearly not a fan of snakes.

“The last year I’ve been so confused. I haven’t played that much tennis. I’ve enjoyed my life, which I’m human, I deserve … Obviously needed a break the last sort of year. I didn’t really find the time, the energy and the space to clear my head, and clear my thoughts.

“Doing the right things for the last 6-8 weeks, starting to get back into it and training and doing the right things. For me, I finally got a bit of rhythm, a bit of something that I wanted.  And I just don’t think it was the right choice for me coming here.”

Tomic was referring to getting back to training as he made a late decision to play in the Australian Open qualifying, after not receiving a wild card for the main draw from Tennis Australia and withdrawing from the tuneup event in Brisbane.

Surprise effort in qualifying

He appeared the day before his first round in Melbourne to play in the Kooyong exhibition. And then he took to the court at Melbourne Park and rolled over French lefty Vincent Millot in the first round.

Then, he defeated American Tommy Paul in a crazy match that ended 6-0, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) before losing in the final round to obscure Italian Lorenzo Sonego. That one went 6-1, 6-7 (5) 6-4.

Tomic had moments of great fight in his three qualifying matches at the Australian – and some moments where he didn’t. But unlike all the other Nike players, he wasn’t sporting the latest duds, so that might offer a clue as to his standing with them. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Tomic barely moved in the first set of that final match. Then, suddenly, he started to try. The crowd got behind him, he started to fist pump. And when he finally went down to defeat, he looked genuinely upset.

Afterwards, he dropped some snark on the media. “I just count money, that’s all I do. I count my millions,” he said.“You go do what I did. Bye-bye.”

Aussies piling on

In the aftermath, the 25-year-old has had everyone pile on him.

Jelena Dokic, a fellow Serbian-born Aussie whose life in tennis with her father Damir makes Tomic’s battles with father John look like a love-in, wrote in a column in the Herald Sun that Tomic was lost and needed help.

Sam Groth, who maximized his own more limited skill set during a career that ended at the Australian Open, echoed her thoughts in a radio interview

“I’m not sure going off into the jungle to deal with it is the way to go about it. I think he has got some deep-seeded issues that he needs to talk to someone with,” Groth said. “Whatever he is struggling with right now, I don’t know if coming back on the tennis court is really going to help that.”


Another exit salvo from Tomic, speaking to a NewsCorp reporter who was in South Africa on a junket paid for by the television show: he said that Tennis Australia was a corrupt organization and that he may well let fly on that subject eventually. 

He also said he hopes he can clear up his issues with the sport’s governing body, evoking fond memories of Davis Cup and insisting that if Australia wants to win it, it’s going to need his services.

Davis Cup Lleyton Hewitt isn’t quite as confident.

“I think with the team camaraderie that we have at the moment it’s as good as I’ve been a part of in a long time, and we fully believe the players we’ve got here we can go a long way,” Hewitt said Monday. “But it’s strange — you either want to be a tennis player or you don’t.”

Will Tomic return? Nothing planned so far

hat’s next for Tomic? Hopefully he gets back to training with a renewed sense of purpose. But it does seem as though whenever he’s not doing something, that’s when he seems to miss it.

His ATP Tour ranking stands at No. 168. But Tomic has virtually no points to defend the next four months. So there is plenty of opportunity to move up if he plays, and wins. 

There’s a Challenger event in Launceston, Tasmania next week. But with Tennis Australia holding sway in terms of wild cards into its country’s events, that might not work.

Tomic hasn’t entered any events through the winter; perhaps he thought he’d still be in the South African jungle. There are some challengers in Japan and China with deadlines coming up. It’ll be interesting to see if he truly plans to get back to work.


Tomic interview: says “balance will come”

Aussie Bernard Tomic, the subject of so much negative attention at Wimbledon when he admitted after a first-round defeat that he hadn’t been trying, opened up in an interview that aired Sunday night in Australia.

The crew from Australia’s Channel 7 traveled to his home in Miami to shoot a no-holds-barred interview.

The interviewer was gentle, but didn’t shy away from asking what needed to be asked. Tomic’s facade broke, but just a little, when she showed him an interview done when he was 12.

Young Bernard said this:

“I’d like to have a heart like Lleyton Hewitt, the groundstrokes of Federer.  I love (tennis). From the ground to the sky. It’s my soul.”

He feels quite differently about the game these days.

And the 24-year-old is fighting an inner battle between resting on what he’s already done and how much money he’s already made, and finding the mindset to keep on and hopefully achieve more.

It’s the classic dilemma faced by many tennis players (Andre Agassi most famous among them) who face a love-hate relationship with a sport that has brought them success beyond their imagination. It’s also a sport that they just, by fluke happen to have been born with a great talent for. 

There’s no manual to handle sudden stardom and riches, especially the way they came to Tomic at such a young age. It’s especially true when a kid has no education, and comes from a modest background. There’s no timetable for figuring it out, either.

Some have it together early. Some never get it together. Most are in between.

We all think we know how we’d handle it, how we’d react, if we were in that situation. But unless it actually does, it’s just theory.

You can see the interview (in two parts) by clicking on this link.

Some excerpts

On liking it, not loving it

“Tennis chose me. I never chose tennis. Tennis chose me, I became to enjoy it at a young age. It’s something I never fell in love with. I like it. It’s like saying  I like a girl, I don’t love her, but I like her. … It’s always been like that.”

On playing for another country

“Big offers to play for different countries, millions that people could only imagine. I never did that. I stayed loyal to Australia. It would have been tough playing matches at the Australian Open with your name under a different flag. At the time, I thought about it. The money was insane.”

On being accused of tanking at the US Open

“I’d never been on Center Court, it’s one of the biggest stages in tennis. I got out there.  And I was nervous. I had all these actors watching. And I was a bit confused, I was a bit nervous. … But I don’t tank. I just get disappointed in myself and very angry. And I forget about what the score is. I forget about who I’m playing, and I think about different things, even when I’m on the tennis court.”

On Patrick Rafter

“Pat’s said a lot of bad things about me throughout my career. He’s always perceived as this nice guy, but people don’t know him in back of closed doors. He’s not that much of a nice guy, and he likes to put on a show.”

Young Bernard wanted to be No. 1 and win a Grand Slam. He lived for the game.

On who he is

“I would like people to know who I truly am. I’m not that much of a cocky person like they say. I am an honest person. I wouldn’t be doing this interview right now if I didn’t have honest opinions and things I want to share. … Confused, That’s what I am. I’m a confusing player on the tennis court as well.”

On the Wimbledon affair

“It was a patch I was going through. I said my honest opinion and I wasn’t motivated the last 4-5 months. I was just going through the motions and it just happened to be at Wimbledon. So I feel like I need to find my balance, I need to find my mindset. Whether it’s now or in one month or three months, it will come. But it’s going to be on my terms, I guess.”

Too much, too soon

“Basically yeah, I didn’t come from a rich family, we had no money.  I was 12 years old, 13, nobody knows this sort of life that I had. We came to Australia with basically nothing, it was tough. People don’t see. We had a car – $200, $300. Now, maybe going buying cars half a million dollars to a million dollars, it’s my choice. Living in these lavish houses, property around the world, It’s my choice. It’s something I’ve worked for and I’ve earned. Being 24 and achieving, in my opinion, a lot in the sport, it’s affected me a little bit mentally and emotionally. So now it’s just about finding my balance, and pushing on the next 10 years, and being successful even more.”

“I am a normal person, I’m human. I’m not Superman. I’m not Roger Federer. I’m not as bad of a person as people seem (to think) I am. I’m just Bernard.”

Tomic speaks out, Dad dismayed

WIMBLEDON – Before Bernard Tomic headed off for a holiday in the U.S., he dropped a few more nuggets of Tomic Talk in an exclusive interview with the Melbourne Herald Sun.

“You probably don’t like me but, at only 24, you guys can only dream about having what I have at 24,” he told the Herald Sun. “End of the day, don’t like me or whatever. Just go back dreaming about your dream car or house while I go buy them.”

Tomic left Wimbledon with a little less scratch to buy his big-ticket items. He was being assessed a hefty fine for his post-match comments after losing to Mischa Zverev in the first round.

He also might have a few more issues filling the new Lamborghini with gas going forward. Racquet sponsor Head dropped him in the wake of those comments.

But for now, he’s balancing the books just fine.

Dad Tomic says son’s too comfy

Tomic’s father John was in so many ways the creator of this rather immature character. But even he has concluded that Bernie has gone a little too far.

“He’s my son, I love him, but I’m ashamed at how he’s approaching his business. It’s not good what he’s doing,” John Tomic told the Herald Sun. “I do not support such behaviour, especially at (a) unique grand slam like Wimbledon. You have to have respect and follow the rules. You have to work hard. And you have to put in 100 per cent and challenge yourself.”

Tomic père spoke out. But he wasn’t too thrilled with some of the former players who suggested his son should (practically) be run out of town on a rail.

Some of those people, of course, actually have bought their dream house or dream car. And, also, won Grand Slam titles. So it’s not only the great unwashed who take exception.

There are a lot of pretty good quotes in this Herald Sun story. In a nutshell, all of those words basically reiterate that both Tomic and his father still have some growing up to do.

Head drops Tomic over “bored” comments

WIMBLEDON – First came a fine for Bernard Tomic.

Later on Thursday, racquet sponsor Head dropped him.

Tomic lost his first-round singles match at Wimbledon to No. 27 seed Mischa Zverev 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on Tuesday.

It was a tough first round from the get-go; the serve-and-volleying Zverev is a tough customer on grass.

But it was made significantly easier for Zverev by Tomic’s lack of commitment to the cause.


His comments after the match – while refreshingly candid – were what got him in trouble. Tomic admitted he took a medical timeout for his perfectly healthy back, merely to try to break his opponent’s momentum. That was probably not his best move.

“I was just playing very bad and feeling bad out there. Tried to use something different maybe, you know, slow him down a bit on the serve. … I just started bad the first set, and then, you know, mentally I wasn’t there after he broke me in the second.”
It was definitely a mental issue out there. Yeah, I just tried to break a bit of momentum but just couldn’t find any rhythm and, you know, wasn’t mentally and physically there with my mental state to perform. I don’t know why, but, you know, I felt a little bit bored out there. You know, to be completely honest with you. So I tried at the end and stuff, he managed to win that set 6-3 or 6-4, but it was too late.”

Mid-career crisis, at least

Tomic’s monotone, dispassionate delivery, regardless of if he’s happy, sad or indifferent, admittedly doesn’t help him in terms of what he’s projecting.

Tomic said he’d felt this way “many times” in his career. And he said he was having a hard time staying inspired after having come on Tour as a teenager.  

Tomic at the US Open in 2008. He lost in the first round of juniors that year, when he was already nearly a full-time player on the Aussie Futures circuit at 15. He won it the next year – his last junior tournament. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

“Just trying to find something, you know, this is my eighth Wimbledon or ninth I think. I’m still 24, and it’s tough to find motivation, you know. Really, me being out there on the court, to be honest with you, I just couldn’t find any motivation.

“To me, this is one of the biggest tournaments in the world that I have done really well in my career, and, yeah, I just couldn’t find anything. It’s happened to me a lot. Just can’t find anything on the court.”

He spoke about having 10 years left in his career, and almost sounded resigned to it.

“I believe, you know, you have to respect the sport. But I think I don’t respect it enough,” he said.

Winning doesn’t do a thing

Tomic said he no longer felt any satisfaction from holding up the winner’s trophy.

“It’s not there. I couldn’t care less if I make a fourth-round US Open or I lose first round. To me, everything is the same. You know, I’m going to play another 10 years, and I know after my career I won’t have to work again,” he said. “So for me this is mental.

“Now it’s a roller coaster, and I just can’t seem to find, like, the commitment to work hard, to enjoy, and to lift trophies. Maybe I have to look at a few things and maybe play less tournaments.”

Not long after that, he said he was headed to the U.S. to play Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Canada, the US Open and whatever else was out there.

The fine for unsportsmanlike conduct from the International Tennis Federation in relation to the comments was announced Thursday, two days after the press conference.

The $15,000 total works out to about one-third of what Tomic earned for losing in the first round of singles.

In pulling their sponsorship, no doubt Head considered a long history of similar behaviour, although this might have been the most astonishingly frank set of statements from him.

Nike, in a statement to the British wire services, is staying.

But still; it seems pretty drastic. You’d think a public announcement of an effort to help Tomic deal with his current demons would go much further, publicity-wise, than just cutting him off.

Head breaks supportive precedent

Head, which is a privately-owned company and thus not beholden to shareholders, did not end its association with French player Richard Gasquet when he tested positive cocaine (a minute amount) back in 2009.

Gasquet’s original suspension was later reduced to 2 1/2 months after the anti-doping authorities were satisfied that his story of having inadvertently ingested the cocaine after kissing a women was credible.

More recently, Head firmly stood by Maria Sharapova in March of 2016, after she announced she had been suspended after a positive doping test at the Australian Open six weeks before.

Sharapova’s sponsors, for the most part, had adopted a wait-and-see attitude at that time, waiting for the entire issue to play out.

But company owner Johan Eliasch announced at the time that not only was Head standing by her, it was looking to extend her contract. That remained so even when the company’s top endorser, world No. 1 Andy Murray, expressed his reservations about the unequivocal support.

Eliasch said Sharapova had “made an honest mistake”, and had “earned the benefit of the doubt.” 

“The honesty and courage she displayed in announcing and acknowledging her mistake was admirable. Head is proud to stand behind Maria, now and into the future and we intend to extend her contract,” the statement said at the time. “We look forward to working with her and to announcing new sponsorships in the weeks and months ahead.”

Tomic’s association with Head had been a long one. He defected over to Yonex for a couple of years, but returned to then in 2014.