MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Under-fire Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic has boasted of his “amazing” achievements in the sport and winning millions of dollars in prize money despite not really trying hard throughout his career.
In a candid interview with Australian broadcaster The Seven Network, the 24-year-old also said he felt ‘trapped’ in the sport and had no regrets about his Wimbledon admission of being ‘bored’ during his first round defeat, a comment which cost him a steep fine and his sponsorship with racket manufacturer Head.
“Throughout my career I’ve given 100 percent. I’ve given also 30 percent,” Tomic said in the television interview from Miami.
“But if you balance it out, I think all my career’s been around 50 percent and I haven’t really tried and I’ve achieved all this,” Tomic said.
“So it’s just amazing what I’ve done.
“I never loved tennis. I am just going to go about it as a job.
“Wouldn’t anyone want to take a job in a professional sport in one of the biggest sports in the world and only give 50, 60 percent and earn millions of dollars? I think everybody would take that.”
Once touted as a potential grand slam champion and a top 10 player, Tomic’s ranking has slid to 73 from a career-high of 17 at the start of 2016.
After a listless 6-3 6-4 6-3 defeat by Germany’s Mischa Zverev at Wimbledon, Tomic said he felt a “little bored” on the court and had suffered from a lack of motivation for two years.
The comments drew condemnation from former players and pundits across the globe.
“I don’t regret what I said,” he said. “At the end of the day, it might sort of look bad … and we Australians don’t like that.
“I’m an honest person and say what I feel. Expressing how I feel, and showing emotion in a different way … they don’t like it,” he said of his detractors.
Tomic has won over $5 million in prize money on the ATP circuit and owns properties around the world but said he felt “confused” and a prisoner of the sport.
He said he would tell his 14-year-old self not to make a career of tennis, had he the choice.
“My position, I am trapped. I have to do it,” he said.
“Not many things can make me super happy,” Tomic added. “If I ever get the chance to win a grand slam, I think only then will I feel the feeling of being really, really happy.”
The interview sparked a predictable storm of criticism on social and mainstream media in Australia on Monday.
Tennis Australia’s high performance chief Wally Masur said both Tomic and his tempestuous compatriot Nick Kyrgios needed to decide whether they wanted to play and then commit to being their best.
“He’s battling. Bernie has been ultra-professional since he was 14 and it’s almost like he’s suffering some sort of burn-out at the moment,” Masur told local media in Sydney on Monday.
“It’s out of our jurisdiction to a large degree, but we have reached out … He’s just got to start to enjoy the sport again.”