Bernard Tomic was always going to have to do something special if he was to upset 11th seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov in a tough second-round clash.
But the Australian only managed a limp, half-hearted performance in a dismal straight-sets loss that had Australian tennis legend John Fitzgerald lamenting his wasted talent after being such a prodigious young starlet.
The 28-year-old, once 17th in the world, now lies down in 233rd in the rankings – which seems rather fitting on the evidence of his 6-1 6-3 6-2 defeat in an hour and 47 minutes.
Tomic played the match with a strapped right knee which he repeatedly flexed at times during the match, indicating a potential injury – or a convenient excuse, depending on your opinion on the polarising talent.
John Fitzgerald labelled his performance “cringe-worthy”.
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“Bernard is a talent and he’s not fulfilling that talent,” he said. “Not even close really. It’s a shame. I know he’s 28 and he’s got a few injury problems now but that comes from not getting your body in the right shape. You can’t compete week in, week out at.
“It’s a shame, it’s a bit sad for me. He was a young kid in my Davis Cup squad (representing Australia).
“You love to see a young person fulfil his potential. I hope he can still commit.”
Tomic barely broke a sweat despite the 30-degree conditions in a rapid-fire first set that lasted just 23 minutes.
Serving at just 46 per cent, Tomic had 2 double faults, 12 unforced errors, and just 14 total points won in the opening stanza, which set the tone for the remainder of the match.
Across the match, he failed to return a full 50% of Shapovalov’s serves, won zero of 7 break points, and made a whopping 40 unforced errors.
That was hard to watch.Source: Getty Images
Midway through the set, Fitzgerald said in commentary: “I would think that Bernie would be calling for the trainer soon. He’s not engaged in this match at all. That’s four love in 13 minutes.
“He’s been a bit of an enigma, Bernard, hasn’t he? In his career.”
He later added: “He’s not prepared to run right now.”
Tomic fought hard in a series of marathon games to start the second set, but collapsed to lose it 6-3.
Fitzgerald then hit out at Tomic’s obvious lack of fitness, declaring: “there’s no effort there”. It was a refrain he repeated later, saying: “You can’t tell me he’s trying.”
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Bernard Tomic’s father John Tomic and girlfriend Vanessa Sierra watched on grimly. Pic: Michael Klein.Source: News Corp Australia
The commentators continued to slam the Australian as the match wore on, after one unforced error declaring: “That’s just lazy. No use of the legs. Maybe the knee is sore, but all he had to do is push that down the line safely.”
And at a change of ends in the third set, fellow commentator Allan Stone said: “Looks like he doesn’t have a care in the world, just sitting there casually.”
Tomic is still just 28, in an era where many players are competing at the top level well into their thirties.
But his lack of effort and fitness led Fitzgerald to deliver a sombre warning about his future.
Fitzgerald said: “You think you have a lot of time ahead of you, but it’s gone in a flash.”
He continued: “It’ll be a big shame if he can’t get more out of his talent.
“He’s got to be fitter, stronger, more dedicated. You can’t compete at this level, not with the best players, if you’re not.
“If you don’t have the miles in your legs you can hit a brick wall very fast. Because this guy (Shapovalov) has got miles in his legs. So do all the others.”
Stone questioned: “I wonder if we’ll see Bernard Tomic back at the Australian Open. I wonder.”
Fitzgerald could only agree.
Venus Williams 40 years old. Badly injured in first set. Still trying her best 1-6 0-5 down ❤️
Then on another court you have Bernard Tomic not trying with any effort. 🤔
The best and the worst of tennis #ausopen
— Chris Goldsmith (@TheTennisTalker) February 10, 2021
at this rate, tomic should just go back to onlyfans with his girlfriend considering his lackluster efforts tonight. #ausopen
— Alisha. (@Lisheon) February 10, 2021
Tomic walks like he has a huge beer belly
— 𝓃𝒶𝓂𝒾 (@minmoong_) February 10, 2021
Lord Tomic is the typical employee who comes to work strictly for a paycheck 😂😂 not even an E for effort mannn😩 horrible lol dude is really playing tennis just for money pic.twitter.com/ps3BgMNPom
— 👑V (@AllHailDuchessV) February 10, 2021