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.
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.”
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.”