There will come a day when an article written after Bernard Tomic loses a match doesn't contain the word "tank." Today is not that day.
The 19-year-old Australian won a mere eight points in the second set of a 6-4, 6-0 loss to Florian Mayer in the first round of the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday. As reported by The Age, the 43rd-ranked Tomic admitted to being mentally fatigued from a long, pressure-packed year and told reporters that he did not go all-out in the second set of the 46-minute match:
Could Bernard Tomic declare that he had given a 100 per cent effort in his first-round match in Shanghai yesterday? No. ''Today I gave about 85 per cent,'' he said.
Tomic's candour is to be admired, even if the denouement of his latest on-court performance was not.
''Today I gave 100 per cent in the first set,'' he said. ''I felt in the second set, my 100 per cent wasn't even close to where it should be. That's where I think mentally … the mental skill is one of my biggest problems.''
Asked earlier if he had been injured in the second set, Tomic said: ''Mentally I was, that's for sure.''
Tomic's comments come a little more than a month after he was criticized for a lack of effort in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss to Andy Roddick in the second round of the U.S. Open. Australia Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter called the performance "disgraceful." ESPN's John McEnroe said during the match that Tomic was tanking the final set, leading to a testy exchange between the player and a reporter afterward. Tomic was later cleared of tanking, but the incident left an indelible mark on the youngster's reputation.
I hope this was merely a communication failure rather than Tomic's copping to yet another poor effort. His comments could just as easily be read to mean he tried but couldn't get himself out of third gear in the second set. That's not necessarily a lack of effort, but a failure to execute because of fatigue. That's not particularly newsworthy. It happens all the time, especially during this part of the season. This is where Tomic's past behavior comes back to haunt him. He lost the benefit of doubt with his display in New York. It could be a while until he gets it back.