Bernard Tomic has taken a beating for the way he played in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss to Andy Roddick in the second round of the U.S. Open last Friday.
Given his talent and the opportunity -- he had the chance to be the second teenager to send a veteran into retirement last week, after Laura Robson eliminated Kim Clijsters -- Tomic came out surprisingly flat and put forth a dismal performance against Roddick. Australian Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter called the outing "disgraceful," and match analyst John McEnroe went so far as to say the 19-year-old was tanking the final set.
While Tomic's shot selection seemed to indicate a lack of focus and his movement was nonexistent, the Aussie told reporters after the match that the occasion of playing Roddick in front of 20,000 people got to him.
"Well, you go in with a plan to win. You know, he's playing well; you're nervous," Tomic said. "He's getting you on little things. You're not quite happy with yourself. ... All I could see was 3‑Love down all of a sudden in the third set. I don't think I was responding with my legs the way I should have."
When a reporter relayed McEnroe's observation that Tomic stopped trying in the third set, he didn't dispute it.
"Well, I think he's probably right," Tomic said. The answer seemed to surprise the press corp, leading to this follow-up exchange:
Q. They made a pretty big deal of it on the last set, tanking, all that stuff.
Tomic: Really? What do you think?
Q. I'm not sure. I think your relaxed style, sometimes people get the wrong impression.
Tomic: That's how I play. Do you have a problem with that?
Q. No. It was on TV. It was a big deal. Better to give you the opportunity now to talk about it surely.
Tomic: Yeah, no, that's your prediction. I have mine. That's how I play. If you think that's that, it's up to you. What is your name, by the way?
Tomic: Will who?
Q. Will Swanton.
Tomic: I'll remember you.
The reporter's question was fair, put forth in a professional manner, and if anything he was trying to give Tomic the opportunity to clarify what sounded like an admission to tanking. But Tomic, who reportedly came into press quickly after the loss, reacted the same way he played that night: by making ill-advised decisions in his attempt to go on the offensive. In both situations he came out worse for the wear.
Patrick McEnroe, who called the match with his brother John, blasted Tomic on Twitter.
Speaking to Fox Sports Australia, Rafter didn't hold back in his assessment of Tomic's play either.
"I threw out the big D word, disgraceful, to him yesterday," Rafter said. "He’s got to learn. There’s no use sugar-coating something, he has to do the work, and I’m sick and tired of tiptoeing around it, and I think everyone else is as well."
You can see video of the exchange between Tomic and the reporter at the 4:37 mark below: