The man who coached Bernard Tomic when he was the brightest star in junior tennis says the troubled career of the sport’s ‘bad boy’ is all but over, blaming the demise largely on his father.
Neil Guiney spent a decade working with Tomic on the Gold Coast, teaching him from the time he was seven until he joined the pro ranks at the age of 17.
Tomic boasted major sponsorship deals and the title of tennis’ ‘next big thing’ when still a junior, a promise he seemed set to live up to with a Wimbledon quarter final in 2011.
But his career and ranking have taken a number of steps backwards since then, culminating in the weekend’s Australian Open qualifying loss and ugly post-match interview.
It’s a day Mr Guiney told Daily Mail Australia he had long seen coming, saying it now seems the 25-year-old lacks the hunger and support to fulfill his potential, intent on staying home and ‘counting his millions’ instead.
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‘I heard his comment about all his money, but that’s just how he is. He’s on a downhill slope and that (money) seems to be all he can think about,’ Mr Guiney said.
‘I still watch him, but it’s disappointing to say the least… the shining light is fading.
‘Yes, I think this time you can nearly call it – his career is all but over.’
Tomic, whose ranking has ballooned to 143 in the world, has career earnings of $5.3million since turning pro in 2007.
But in recent years his focus on fast cars and partying has polarised the Australian public, while his feuds with Tennis Australia have been many and often.
According to Mr Guiney a poor attitude towards training and authority wasn’t always the case, and he claims the problem is largely due to the dominance of Tomic’s father John.
‘When he was young he worked hard, I coached him when he was 10 and he couldn’t play at all,’ the legendary Queensland coach said.
‘He won the Orange Bowl, which is the leading junior tournament in the world, three years in a row and by the end he was just too good.
‘He was a cruel man with a big temper who didn’t really know enough (about tennis) but always had to be in charge.
‘The main drive came from his father, you could almost predict things were going to go wrong.’
A talented soccer player and distance runner as a youngster, according to Mr Guiney the German-born tennis star could have made it in any sport.
While many may still harbor hopes of Tomic turning his career around and reaching the heights he promised as a kid, his ex-coach says that’s unlikely.
He believes that the dominance of John Tomic – who has regularly butted heads with top Tennis Australia officials including Lleyton Hewitt – is holding Bernard back.
Mr Guiney says one event in particular – a 2013 incident where Mr Tomic headbutted his son’s playing partner Thomas Drouet – may have been the beginning of the end.
‘When Bernard was working with that French guy that was the best I’d seen him play,’ he said.
‘He won Sydney International and he’d taken a lot of weak spots out of his game, and then John headbutts the bloke and he nearly ended up in jail.
‘But had that kept going I think you would’ve found a different Bernard in the end. He seemed to know what he was on about, but really anyone would be better than John.
‘Bernard always lived through this unsteady sort of atmosphere, not sure whether to duck or run, and that always breeds disaster.
‘He took it very seriously when he was a kid, he liked to win, and all that’s gone now.’
Claiming he lacks the professionalism or drive to every match it with the top flight of stars like Roger Federer, Mr Guiney admitted Bernard must take some responsibility.
Bright lights, seven-figure endorsements and the title of one of the world’s best will seemingly soon be a thing of the past for Tomic.
Just days earlier after his Australian Open loss Tomic said: ‘I just count money, that’s all I do, I count my millions. You go make $13 or $14million. Good luck, bye bye.’
Echoing the claims of retired American tennis star Andy Roddick, Mr Guiney said he worried that just like his potential Tomic’s wealth may soon disappear.
Mr Guiney admitted that despite his claims of just sitting at home counting his worth of ‘$13 to $14 million’, Tomic may soon be left with nothing from a promising career.
Legendary American tennis player Andy Roddick was among those to slam Tomic following his comments on the weekend. The Queenslander has often proved a divisive figure for the public
‘It’s all over, unless he’s happy to play (lower level) Challenger tournaments for all his life, but knowing Bernard I highly doubt it,’ he said.
‘To be honest I don’t think he is concerned about his bank balance, I think he’s just saying that because he’s embarrassed about losing.
‘For him it’s embarrassing to have to play qualifiers and more embarrassing when he loses… but it looks bad and it sounds bad.
‘It is sad, because a lot of hours of work has gone into it in the hot Queensland sun to make him great.
‘I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, someone might help him and pick him up but you have to work hard and he doesn’t seem to want to.
‘He might just want to sit back and enjoy his money, but that might go down as fast as his ranking has.’