A Short Examination of Bernie

19-year old, no. 42-ranked Bernard Tomic was caught street racing (or “hooning”) by Australian police.  He is currently in the middle of a “dangerous driving investigation.”  So far, it all sounds innocent enough (aside from the obvious dangers of street racing, which he should thank his lucky stars for emerging from safely).  Only, Tomic then complained about his treatment from the police: “I don’t know what it is – jealousy or whatever – but this policeman seems to have it in for me.”  Tomic then went on to make a series of weak complaints against the police.

Photo: BMW

First, lets examine the $150,000 BMW M3 monstrosity Tomic calls his vehicle.  The above article helpfully points out the car runs on a V8 engine–frankly, I don’t know what that means.  I do know this: THE CAR IS ORANGE.  Now I know Tomic was born in Germany and moved to Australia, and then went back and forth between Croatia and Australia for awhile.  Nowhere in that individual narrative is there any mention of Dutch ancestry—so why the orange sports car?  Riddle me that, Bernie.  I’m not sure the policeman was jealous of him so much as he was full of scorn for the choice of a flashy “hooning” vehicle.

Tomic is 19-years old and flush from a big leap up the rankings (he is now no. 42)–he became the youngest Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 25 yrs, when he defeated Soderling en route to an impressive loss to Djokovic in the QF.  Much like his higher-ranked colleagues, Tomic now claims Monaco as his residence.  I understand he’s making his own money and that he’s a top young prospect, but there is something that feels wrong about his approach.

This is the latest in a series of incidents for the Bernie.  Honestly, I think he can be fun to watch (in small doses, and more often only against top opponents).  Still, this incident, along with Australian DC captain Pat Rafter’s comments that Tomic needs to take his training more seriously if he wants to succeed, make me wonder.  That Tomic once turned down Lleyton Hewitt’s invite for  a hitting session (on account of Hewitt not being great enough) is surprising when you consider Tomic hasn’t won an ATP title or reached a final yet.

Let’s go back to 2008, when DelPo won his first ATP title in Stuttgart–all roads lead to DelPo here ;): 1) DelPo dropped to his knees to celebrate and badly scraped his knees in the process.  2) He spent the award ceremony with bloody knees (below), as he posed in front of the white Mercedes Benz convertible he had won with the title.

Photo: ATP site

3) The day DelPo won his 1st title coincided with his younger sister’s birthday, so he gifted the car he won to his sister.  In 2008, DelPo was the same age Tomic will be next year.

Sweethearts–they don’t make them like they used to.  I guess this rather random memory comes to mind because out of the new tennis players who’ve received attention in the news, there seems to be a fair share of drama that accompanies them, whether it’s Bernie Tomic, Ryan Harrison, or Donald Young.  Remember this year’s Oz Open, when Bernie said his game would trouble Rafa, only for Rafa to later apologize for “destroying him”?  Then again, there is no. 31- ranked Milos Raonic–if Bruce Jenkins has his way, Raonic and Dolgopolov will be contesting a GS semifinal in 2012.

Still, given the year he had after the Oz Open, Tomic is one to watch in the 2012 season.  He could trouble some of the higher-ranked players, including the ones dear to me.  That would be a redemption of sorts for Bernie, given the criticism he’s attracting right now.


About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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10 Responses to A Short Examination of Bernie

  1. Pingback: Brisbane, Chennai, Doha & South America | mariposaxprs

  2. queridorafa says:

    “Nowhere in that individual narrative is there any mention of Dutch ancestry—so why the orange sports car? Riddle me that, Bernie.”
    LOL–it really would be the only acceptable explanation! Great points, great post! Poor DelPo with his bloody, (knobby) knees. Ryan and Bernie drive me crazy with their brat-dom. Ryan more so than Bernie. I’m very forgiving of Australians, for some reason…. 😉 It seems like Bernie’s been in a tough spot w/ dad as coach–perhaps if/when he ever breaks free of that, he might gain some perspective. Ryan just seems entitled and quasi-delusional about how good he is (although, I say this now, and he will no doubt be a surprise finalist at the Oz Open or something…) One thing I don’t get in the U.S. is why the USTA continues to fund/offer funds to so many of these players well into adulthood (Harrison and Young on and off, Fish, Querrey, Bogomolov, famously). Was it Murray who said recently that Spain cuts everyone off at age 18? Not sure that is completely accurate, but it does seem to make a lot more sense and encourage a bit more “humble” and self-responsibility.

    • ariennalee says:

      I’ve thought about that comment of Murray’s as well. I think that the USTA is trying too hard. Let’s face it, tennis just isn’t what the cool kids do in the States right now. That doesn’t mean they won’t do it again later… but since when has TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING SOUND COOL ever made it cooler?

      I like Harrison’s gumption, so I keep hoping it’s his limbic system, not his entire personality, that isn’t mature yet. 🙂 There are new studies that show that in some men the limbic system doesn’t fully mature until age 26, making them act like teenagers for way, way too long (I’m over-simplifying, of course, but I’m doing it for Ryan’s sake). It’s all about affect-regulation. One hopes.
      I do not, however, expect to see Ryan in a final until he improves the backhand.

      Bernie drives me crazier than Ryan, for some reason. Perhaps I’m more tolerant of firebrands than I am of guys who act over-casual. I don’t react well to the dismissive way he plays tennis or talks in his interviews. Oddly enough, I don’t care about the orange car. Although in my personal “rules of the commute” I find BMW drivers to be the most aggressive drivers on the road, and second in entitlement only to Mercedes drivers and mini vans with TVs inside (although to be fair, the mini-van drivers are more inattentive than entitled, and usually on account of having 2.5 screaming children in the backseat).

      • mariposaxprs says:

        The Murray quote is pretty revealing. There was an article this summer about why French players so often reach the top 10% but can’t inch their way to the top 5% and Gilles Simon gave a quote where he said the French tennis federation provides everything–practice courts, tennis gear, trainers, everything is free. He implied that perhaps skewed their perspective when it came to aiming for the top prizes in tennis. It could very well be an issue with the national tennis federations then.

        That’s a great distinction you make between Tomic and Harrison–I can totally see it now. I catch myself trying to figure out what Tomic is thinking during matches–when he’s playing listlessly, I wonder is it b/c he’s at a 250-level tourny and he just doesn’t care enough to try? I will also try to keep an eye out for Harrison’s limbic system in the future 🙂 Tennis-wise, he seems to have a more complete game than the other youngsters, so maybe it’s only a matter of time before the limbic system catches up with him!

        That’s another awesome distinction between BMW and Mercedes drivers. I remember when I was around 10 y.o., a pampered classmate told me with a self-assured certainty only 10-year olds possess, that BMW drivers were over-ambitious (in a bad way) while Mercedes drivers were classy (her mother may or may not have driven a Mercedes ;)). I still find that quote funny for many different reasons, prob b/c it’s ultimately evidence of an entitlement complex! Lol.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Haha “Very forgiving of Australians, for some reason…” <– I just think of Pat Rafter, and I feel forgiving of Australian players already! That's a great point that it's more difficult to blame Bernie Tomic or even Donald Young, because a lot of their "drama" is tied up with their parents. I remember reading that at a tourny in Malaysia, Tomic's father was acting very rude, while Tomic was apologizing for his father's behavior. Maybe once he breaks free a little, he can create a new story for himself.

      I have the same qualms about Ryan Harrison, b/c it's almost becoming a pattern–I feel many of the retired players like Jim Courier and Justin Gimelstob actually encourage temper tantrums on court (I think it was Mary Carillo who basically called out Gimelstob & told him Harrison was being a brat). Perhaps it is an issue of mollycoddling from the USTA–imagine if the younger tennis players were cut off at 18. That would be news for sure!

  3. ariennalee says:

    Mariposaxprs, I still remember when you wrote (either in a post or in your comments somewhere) that the top players would figure out how to unravel Tomic’s wacky game soon enough. I took that to heart & will continue to believe it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but–until proved otherwise. Also, as sincere as Milos seems to be, I hope we don’t have to spend the next generation at the Bernie & Raonic show. Oy.

    Also, nothing shows the kid inside like skinned knees!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yes, Bernie’s junk-balls can be tough to figure out! Hopefully, the top players will do enough scouting to figure out how to unravel his wacky game.

      I’m not sure I could watch a Bernie & Raonic show either–it would be so bland. Milos seems like a nice guy, but I’m just not interested enough in his tennis game. There’s one Spanish tennis player, Javier Marti, who seems like he could do well in the next few years–maybe he could help make the next generation of tennis players more interesting to watch!

  4. Rafa didn’t buy a nice car until he finally won Wimbledon. I’m not sure how much it all means though. A lot of people think Tomic is going to continue to cause trouble because of his eclectic game. He’ll need the mental toughness though.

    • ariennalee says:

      Good point, Fan Child. One thing that I’ve noticed about Tomic is that– as Mariposaxprs quotes above– Bernard tends to mention jealous/envy quite frequently. It’s not clear yet whether that emotional stance is more likely to stoke his competitive fire or get him in trouble with the police. In other words, is it an emotional hunger (one that might lend itself to developing emotional toughness) or is it just hubris?

    • mariposaxprs says:

      That’s true! Didn’t Rafa buy the car because he won a bet with his father that he could win Wimbledon (and his father played along b/c he assumed Rafa wouldn’t win)? At that point, Rafa had near three dozen titles too!

      I’m not sure what it means either, although I find a pretty big contrast in behavior between players like Rafa and someone like Bernie. I get the impression that Bernie only dials in when he’s playing a top player—at lower-level tournaments, he’s almost looked disinterested. It could very well be a mental tougness/focus issue.

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