Tennis bad boy Bernard Tomic has admitted “I’m still scared of my dad” in a wide-ranging TV interview before the Australian Open.
While Tomic crashed out of Australian Open qualifying on Tuesday and has now contracted Covid-19, it was the first step on his comeback as he seeks to have one final crack of reaching his potential in his tennis career.
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A prodigious talent who burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old when he made the Wimbledon quarterfinals, Tomic has been seen as one of the great wasted talents Australia.
As a 14-year-old, Tomic signed the largest sponsorship deal for any athlete at that age in Nike’s history and had won the junior Australian Open and US Open titles.
Widely tipped to be a potential world No. 1 and grand slam winner when he came onto the scene, Tomic has won just four career titles and made the quarters at Wimbledon, fourth round at the Australian Open, third round at the US Open and never been past the second round of the French.
Having reached a best of world No. 17 in 2016, Tomic is now languishing at world No. 257.
Speaking to A Current Affair, Tomic said his whole life was all tennis, all the time.
“Growing up was just tennis, tennis, tennis,” he said. “That’s the only thing I knew. I was breathing tennis, sleeping tennis and working very hard. People don’t see the work I put in, the blood, sweat and tears. I was on court 8-10 hours a day, at a young age, when I was 10 years old.”
Tomic was taken out of school at 13 by his father John to focus on his tennis career.
Tomic said his father “whacked balls at me, rackets and stuff” and that he was “a crazy man”. it’s among several accusations levelled at him over the years, including headbutting a former hitting partner of his son, which led to his suspension as coach in 2013.
He added that it was part of his discipline and said “he is a good man and he has a good heart”.
“He still supports me, motivates me, he’s one of the main reasons I played tennis,” Tomic said. “I’ve got to give the guy credit, that’s for sure. He did super well, we did super well.
“Obviously there a lot of stuff I would change there as a father, as a son. I wouldn’t want to raise my kids the way I was raised. I mean, you live and learn. I have learnt a lot from my father, don’t get me wrong.
“His expectations for me as a player was always too high, of being No. 1 and winning 10-20 grand slams. There was always a lot of pressure thrown on me from my father and it’s not easy, people don’t see this outside world of constant pressure, pressure, pressure. Then there is the fans and general public, so all of that when it was thrown upon me, it was not easy to handle. I did handle it very well.”
Tomic’s dad John refused to comment on his son’s claims, according to Channel 9.
Over the years, Tomic has been a lightning rod for negative stories.
The controversial star has been slammed for tanking — even including a swipe from Aussie tennis legend John Fitzgerald at last years’ Australian Open — as well as being outspoken and controversial, like the time he told reporters after being ousted from the 2018 Australia Open that he would spend his time “counting my millions”.
The walking headline said he said so few people reaching out to check on him at the time and he was left disappointed.
It also sored his relationships with legends, including Lleyton Hewitt. In 2019 he infamously said “no one likes him”, which reopened a feud dating back to 2010 when Tomic Sr. said Hewitt tried to pressure him into revealing who at Tennis Australia was “against” him.
Tomic said he “has done a lot of other things that I regret” and that “if I could take those things back I would”.
He even said he’d like to go for a coffee with the former World No. 1 and patch things up.
In recent years, Tomic’s relationships have been more newsworthy than his on-court performances, including his on-again, off-again relationship with former MAFS star Vanessa Sierra, which included a short stint on OnlyFans.
As for his “rollercoaster” relationship, Tomic had a simple message: “Don’t do OnlyFans.”
Tomic called it the “biggest regret of my life” last month and has since reportedly started a relationship with influencer Keely Hannah.
Tomic said he had to deal with plenty of negativity, including death threats, online abuse and what he called “bullying”.
He said it’s why he prefers to be overseas and out of the spotlight.
He also conceded that the money, houses and cars were fleeting and “doesn’t fulfil you”.
But despite all of that, Tomic said he is currently at his “rock bottom” but has pledged to bounce back.
The 29-year-old said he believes he “can win Wimbledon” and promised to do it before he retires.
“We all know this, I know this — I’m probably a top 10 player in the world on grass,” he said. “I will do it, before I retire, I will do it, that’s for sure.”
Tomic said he was a better person than he was in the past.
He said that he had “four or five” years left in his career and he said he wants to prove to himself what he could do. He said he wouldn’t be happy with what he achieved if he retired now.