Dominic Thiem battled back from the verge of defeat to down world No.1 Novak Djokovic in a three-hour, three-set semi-final classic at the ATP Finals.
Cast your mind back to 2011.
Entering the main draw at Wimbledon for just the second time, fresh-faced Bernard Tomic went on a dazzling run all the way to the quarter-finals. Almost nine years later, it is still his best result at a Slam and the high point of his career.
One could make the case that Tomic has had a successful career to date. He has a reached a career-high singles ranking of 17. He has made a touch over US$6,000,000 in prize money and more in endorsement deals.
He has four ATP Tour 250 titles to his name, and he has achieved more than most aspiring tennis players could even dream of.
But from my armchair, it is very difficult not to ponder what could have been. Tomic has never managed a grand slam semi-final or even an ATP Tour 500 win. For all of his potential, a great deal of it remains untapped and it is hard to see Tomic again scaling the heights he reached early on in his career if he doesn’t make a significant change to his attitude.
I’m writing this piece after his latest loss, this one coming in the first round at the ATP 250 tournament in Delray Beach, Florida. To his credit, Tomic managed to take a set off Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe to three sets. However, he was only granted a spot in the main draw at Delray Beach as a lucky loser following his failure to qualify.
There are good players at the tournament, such as Milos Raonic and John Millman, and it’s not an easy thing to mix it with players of this ilk. But Tomic is certainly good enough to qualify for these tournaments and challenge for the titles.
Issues with his attitude and desire to win have plagued Bernard for years. He has regularly been aloof in press conferences, and of course, there was his infamous quote, “I just count money, that’s all I do.”
Parallels could be drawn with Australia’s other highly talented and often misbehaving young prospect Nick Kyrgios.
While Tomic has shown little change in his attitude in recent times, Kyrgios seems to be making equal progress on and off the tennis court. Over the Australian summer of tennis, it was great to see an upbeat and focused young man reach new heights on the court.
His contribution to Tennis Australia’s bushfire relief fundraising were commendable.
Does Tomic have to be front and centre of a fundraising campaign for his on-court stock to rise to where we know it can be? No. But showing some humility and behaving better in general is not going to hurt.
To make it back into the tennis elite, he will need to find his hunger. He will need to regain the desire to win because at the end of the day that should be his single greatest focus.
Please, Bernard. There is so much to be positive about in Australian tennis right now. Australian tennis fans want to be positive about you, too. You just need to let them.