He managed the feat of making Patrick Rafter lose his temper. As insolent than talented, Bernard Tomic was left out of the Australian group that will defy Taiwan this weekend in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. Between the raucous declarations, his grand gestures on the court and his boozy parties, portrait of a great hope of world tennis whose antics irritate and embarrass his elders and federation.
He's the new bad boy of world tennis. At just 20 years old, Bernard Tomic made quite a lot of noise in recent weeks. On one hand, a season opener title in Sydney, and an honorary victory against Novak Djokovic in the Hopman Cup, a semi-official team event. On the other hand, sensational statements which are quite rare in an environment usually very civilized. His good start to the year thus caused tasty press conferences: "I’m pleased with myself, I’ve improved a lot. My service is really good, my baseline shots are good as well. I also move well... At this point, there’s not much more I can ask for. In the service, I can now find many more angles. It's good to hear my opponents say that I serve incredibly well" and to add:" I have no doubt that one day I'll be the best player to have ever played this game».
Because yes, the boy is full of confidence. Bernie isn’t shy and that’s what makes him so recognizable. On the court, where his technical richness portends a golden future, as well as outside, he's inimitable. Long awaited as the next big star of Australian tennis - at age 13, he won a youth tournament open for the 18 years old, at the manner of a Hingis - he has acquired certainties and ambitions to live up to his admirers: "There’s game in his racket" greets Roger Federer, when Djokovic said: "He’s very talented and tactical, he feels the game very well for someone so young. He moves well, has a good service, easily passes from defence to attack... When he will play all year round at the level he can have when he’s in Australia, he won't be far from the top.”
Fight, speeding and exhibitionism
But pending to become the best player of all time, Bernard Tomic is still to play for national supremacy to the dark Marinko Matosevic. It’s because the Australian prodigy has wasted quite some time since his surprise quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2011. A match that made him the youngest player to reach this stage of the competition in London since Boris Becker. Ghostly on the courts in 2012, his best claim to fame has been an altercation in Miami with his father of a coach, the vociferous John Tomic. The player eventually asked the referee Cedric Mourier to have his dad removed from the stands. But Bernard was particularly distinguished for his off-field antics. The kidult became familiar with the police forces after being arrested for speeding, public drunkenness and drunk and naked brawl in a Jacuzzi at his 20th birthday party!
If it's necessary that youth must pass, his lack of investment during the qualifications of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas match against Germany in September, led his captain Patrick Rafter not to select him for the first round against Taiwan this week... Something to which Tomic chose to answer with provocation, arguing that he would “not have been available at this time" anyway. Enough to irritate in a country where a guy like Pat Rafter has always attracted more support than a guy like Lleyton Hewitt. A question of image... And while Craig Tiley, head of Australian tennis, Samantha Stosur and even John McEnroe all embossed the young man's behaviour, it’s precisely Hewitt who became his defence attorney. As he was also an arrogant ball of nerves upon his arrival on the tour, the former World No. 1 said to see himself in his young compatriot: "We had a difficult start (note: Tomic refused to train with him at Wimbledon in 2009, considering that Hewitt was not strong enough), but I think that in the last two years, I became one of the closest person to him on the tour. Bernard is the future of our courts and, even if it's necessary to adhere to rules that are the same for all, we cannot cut ties with a guy that talented. Even though he can be frustrating, he is still very young." To the point that he’s still the youngest in the World Top 100..." I've had ups and downs in recent months, but I learned a lot" promises Tomic. Without being able to resist adding: "Only Federer could beat me in Australia. It’s only a matter of time before I join the Top 10." A big mouth, Bernard? Almost as big as his ability to make this prediction come true...
By Guillaume Willecoq