Back in July, Bernard Tomic bowed out in the first round at Wimbledon to Mischa Zverev and what followed can only be described as one of the most bizarre post-game press conferences that you’re ever likely to see.
The Australian tennis star admitted that he “hasn’t really tried in his career” and that he “only plays on the tour for the money.” Whilst some commentators praised the 24-year-old’s brutal honesty, others were less understanding and took the opportunity to chastise Tomic, reminding him that there are players out there who would give their right arm for both the talent he possesses and the success he has already achieved in his relatively short career.
Fellow Australian and good friend of Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, is also no stranger to controversy. Interestingly enough, Kyrgios was fined £38,000 last year for a perceived lack of effort whilst playing against – you guessed it – Mischa Zverev in last year’s Shanghai Masters. The 22-year-old was also recently fined around £7,500 for controversially retiring mid-match against American Steve Jones in the same tournament last month. The player has since explained that a stomach bug was to blame for the whole debacle but in spite of this, Kyrgios did not seek medical help whilst on the court and further flouted the rules by refusing a medical examination after the game.
To add further insult to injury, 17-year-old teenage tennis star Destanee Aiava has recently admitted that once she has earned enough money, she will quit tennis altogether. This is arguably the most galling incident of all. Whilst it would be ignorant to hold the belief that young players aren’t attracted by the money and fame that professional tennis brings, a fresh-faced 17-year-old should, in theory, simply be enjoying playing the sport that they have known and loved from a young age. In any case, to go public with these views so flippantly is arguably reckless at best and certainly doesn’t set the finest example to younger players who happen to be watching and listening.
Contrast the above attitudes to those of the evergreen duo of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Both have shown great amounts of guile and determination in recent times to return to the top of the rankings. Roger Federer, in particular, deserves a great amount of respect for the way he’s managed his body and recently withdrew from the Paris Masters to give himself the best possible chance at playing at the highest level for years to come. The fact that Federer remains joint-favourite at 3/1 with the latest tennis betting to land his 17th Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January is proof positive that his attitude and dedication to the game is not only refreshing but effective.
It’s difficult to say whether the attitudes of some of the younger players is indicative of a wider problem within the game. The fact that players such as Nadal and Federer are carrying on in the face of adversity when they could easily retire on their success and millions is extremely encouraging and one would hope that any aspiring tennis players will be taking note. Should we be worried about the attitudes of the younger generation of players coming through the ranks? Probably not just yet, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.