Will Bernard Tomic ever be able to shake his "Tomic the Tank Engine" nickname? Possibly, but he has a long way to go to earn back the benefit of the doubt from fans.
The 20-year-old Aussie faced Andy Murray on Saturday in a much-anticipated second-round match at the Sony Open. But instead of watching two high tennis IQs engaged in an entertaining game of chess, the Miami spectators were barely able to work on their tans as Tomic lost 6-3, 6-1 in less than an hour.
The match started competitively, with Tomic having early chances to break. But after Murray held for 2-2 after a marathon game, Tomic won only two more games in the match. The unforced errors came quickly, as Tomic's movement, patience and focus seemed to disappear. By the end, Tomic had hit 37 unforced errors in a 56-minute match.
"Bernie obviously trying to break the record for unforced errors in 2 sets?" broadcaster and coach Darren Cahill tweeted. Murray's mother, Judy, made reference on Twitter to the Tank Engine nickname.
The crowd voiced its displeasure over Tomic's performance. The whistles began when Tomic didn't make a move to return two serves from Murray and went down 1-4 in the second set. The dissatisfaction grew even louder after Tomic's poor effort in the next game led to a Murray break.
Here's video of the last two points of that sixth game that ended with a weak drop-shot attempt from Tomic that landed in the net.
Andy Murray offered some sympathy, cautioning against reading too much into a player's body language.
"The one thing I would say is that if you aren't used to playing in these conditions, it is extremely hot and tough to play," Murray said. "It is tough when you're going behind and making quite a lot of mistakes. I have done it before when my head has gone down and you still want to win, but it doesn't always appear that way. So I don't know. The crowd, they're free to do whatever they want. They pay the money and they can greet players however they would like." Tomic told reporters after the match that he was sick and had trouble breathing during the match. He returned a few hours later to play doubles with Lleyton Hewitt. The Aussie pair lost to Marcelo Melo and Ivan Dodig 7-5, 6-3.