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Meltdown of the Week


Finding Roger Federer Meltdown footage on YouTube is like finding a seat on the Number 4 Lexington Avenue subway at 9:30 in the morning. [Non-New Yorkers, take note: it's rare.] The Greatest of All Time usually deals with blown shots by dragging his middle finger across his forehead and tucking his hair behind his ear. Not this time. This was a semi-final match with Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Djokovic just broke Fed in the third and deciding set and was up 15-0 when the Greatest of All Time took his eyes off a routine approach shot that could have evened the score. Federer went through lots of racquets when he was playing the junior circuit; wonder if he felt a little wave of nostalgia upon banging this one hard into the court.

On the Sideline

Entries in Bernard Tomic (2)


Butthead: Bernard Tomic's Dad Suspended After Alleged Head-Butt of Partner

Haters, there's plenty of tennis action going on in Madrid -- Federer returns after 8 weeks off, Djokovic is upset in Madrid by #28 Grigor Dmitrov, newly-minted Guiness World Record-holder Anabel Medina Garrigues halts Madison Keys' run  -- but it's the tennis hate off court that has drawn me to the keyboard.

Crying over unspilt milk: Thomas Drouet says John Tomic head-butted him. Courtesy AFP/Getty Images.

John Tomic, father and coach of Aussie up-and-comer Bernard Tomic, has been barred from future ATP tournaments pending the outcome of an inquiry into whether he assaulted the 20-year-old's hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, last Saturday outside a Madrid hotel.

Drouet says Tomic head-butted him in the nose, breaking it, in an argument that began when Drouet refused to buy milk for the Tomics prior to their flight to Spain for the Mutua Madrid Open.

Tomic, the Herald Sun's "Poster Boy of the Mad Tennis Parents Club,"is claiming it was in self-defense.

It seems the head is a favored target of Coach Tomic.  According to the New York Times, Drouet told the French sports paper, L'Equipe, that Tomic punched his son in the head during a training session, hard enough that Bernie's mouth was bleeding.  

“All that because Bernard had told him that he had had enough of hearing his criticism. I didn’t intervene as I have read I did other places. Afterward, John took Bernard’s three rackets and destroyed them. Bam. Bam. Bam. A half hour later, he was joking with Bernard."

Ha, ha, my boy, better the Yonex than you.  

Sadly, the apple hasn't fallen very far from the tree.  Bernie has had his own I Hate Tennis moments, most notably when he was accused of tanking in a lackluster US Open loss last year to Andy Roddick.  He got surly with a reporter from Reuters and said, darkly, "I'll remember you." 

Maybe this is why I haven't seen any quotations yet from Bernie.  Reporters are too busy ordering face masks first.

Tomic needs a new coach.  Currently 53rd in the world, he was as high as 27th last June.  His 2013 season has been spotty.  He won his first ATP Tour title in Sydney last January, but has played little, and done little, since then, except rack up a notably I Hate Tennis moment: Tomic failed to convert 5 match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Marseille.  



US Open: Tomic Tanks vs. Roddick, Takes It Out on Reporter

You got a problem with that? Bernard Tomic explains tankingHaters, I'm a member of the Fourth Estate, so I've been in news conferences where my ilk needle politicians and tennis players and other newsworthy folks in search of a good quote.

Well, an Australian reporter got a story, all right, when he questioned fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic about his lackluster effort in the 19-year-old's 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 beating by 30-year-old American Andy Roddick.

Roddick had just announced 24 hours earlier that he was going to retire after the Open, the site of his greatest victory and only Grand Slam championship in 2003.  Maybe he was going for broke as a result, relaxed and at peace with himself.  (He later said, in his on court interview, "I wasn't relaxed tonight, but it's a great result.")  Maybe it was the blue moon shining over Arthur Ashe Stadium, the second full moon in a calendar month.

The ball looked as big as the full moon to Roddick vs. Tomic. Source: AFP

Whatever the source, Roddick was magical, with 13 aces, including one on match point, 33 winners to 21 unforced errors (Tomic's differential was 18/27) and an average first serve speed of 127 miles per hour (Tomic? 112 mph).

Even so, Tomic looked wooden and sluggish, especially in the third set, which took just 21 minutes.  And why wouldn't it?  The Aussie won just five points.

John McEnroe, calling the game with brother Patrick for ESPN, suggested Tomic was tanking.

"Tomic is teeing it up.  It looks like the tank job," he said.  Brother Patrick later Tweeted, "Pathetic."  (The Tweet came as Victoria Azarenka, the next match up on Ashe, was throttling Zheng Jie, 6-0, 6-1.  PMac later clarified in a second Tweet: "In case you were wondering, I was referring to effort from Tomic.")

Really, Haters, two pricey night matches in ugly Ashe, over in one hour, 26 minutes. That, and your tiny little $18 lobster roll dinner and the long subway ride to Flushing Meadows, and you're better off going to see middle-aged Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones attempt hot sex in "Hope Springs."    

Told of McEnroe's tanking comment afterward, Tomic agreed.  "Well, I think he's probably right. I couldn't get the racquet on the ball."

 That's how I play. Do you have a problem with that?"

"The whole match was his way from start to finish pretty much."

My people pressed on.  Will Swanton, a reporter with Reuters, asked him to explain what happened.  

Tomic: "What do you think?"

Swanton: "I think your relaxed style sometimes, people get the wrong impression."  

Tomic: "That's how I play.  Do you have a problem with that?"

Swanton told Tomic he was just giving him a chance to explain himself.  Yeah, THAT well-worn ploy.  "You're going to regret not telling us everything that's buzzing around in your head right now, word for word."

Tomic didn't disappoint.

Tomic: "That's your prediction. I have mine. That's how I play  If you think that's that, it's up to you. What is your name?" 

Swanton: "Will."

Tomic: "Will who?

Swanton: "Will Swanton."

Tomic: "From?"

Swanton: "Reuters."

Tomic: "I'll remember you."

Tomic has some water with his bagel. Source: APOkay, Tomic is just 19.  Roddick gets equally surly, with reporters and umpires, and he's 11 years older.  (Even tonight, when questioning a linesman's call, he could be heard on national TV saying to the chair ump, "Step in at any time!")  That's tennis.  It makes you say things you regret, like calling your husband a motherf****r because he hit a winning drop shot against you for the third time. 

But, uh, Bernie?  Practice saying this, while you're out there slugging groundstrokes and picturing Will Swanton's face on every ball:

 "No comment."