Tomic troubles show why this is now no game for young men

The only teenager in the men's top 100 admits to falling short yesterday, but nobody blames him

Shanghai

If confirmation were needed that the days when teenagers could take men's tennis by storm are long gone, it came out on Court Four here at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre yesterday. Bernard Tomic, who will cease to be the only teenager in the world's top 100 when he celebrates his 20th birthday later this month, has long been regarded as the best player of his generation, but his 6-4, 6-0 mauling by Germany's Florian Mayer in the first round of the Shanghai Masters underlined how today's ATP circuit separates the men from the boys.

At 6ft 5in tall and weighing more than 14 stone, Tomic has the perfect physique for modern-day men's tennis. He also has a lovely, languid style, combining natural power with great skill and creativity, which many hardened professionals found hard to deal with during his first season on the tour last year, when he reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and climbed 166 places in the rankings to finish at No 42 in the world.

This year began well enough for the former world junior No 1 – he reached the semi-finals in Brisbane before losing to Andy Murray, and the fourth round at the Australian Open before going down to Roger Federer – but now it cannot end soon enough for him. Tomic has been on the road throughout the last four months, having last spent time at his home in Monte Carlo just after the French Open, and has found the challenge of playing a full year on the tour too much.

The physical and mental demands of the modern game are such that it would be all but impossible to imagine anyone emulating Boris Becker, who won his first Grand Slam title at 17.

Tomic believes he attempted too much too quickly. "It's been a long year, I played a lot of tournaments and I haven't had time to rest," he said. "I think it's costing me now, the last few months. My performance has not been as good."

The Stuttgart-born Australian admitted that he had felt under pressure to defend ranking points this year. "I wasn't prone to pressure growing up, when I was 16 or 17," he said. "Now I think it's starting to hit me."

Tomic said he had come to realise the ATP circuit was "a very tough tour" and added: "The guys in the top five have to defend a lot of stuff. For them, I couldn't imagine the pressure they have."

At last month's US Open, Pat Rafter, Australia's Davis Cup captain, described Tomic's capitulation against Andy Roddick as "disgraceful". Yesterday the teenager was on court for just 45 minutes, lost the last nine games in a row and won just eight points in a 16-minute second set.

"Today I gave about 85 per cent," Tomic admitted. "I gave 100 per cent in the first set. I felt in the second set, my 100 per cent wasn't even close to where it should be. That's where I think the mental skill is one of my biggest problems."

 

 

In other circumstances the ATP might be asking questions of a player who admits to not giving his all, but it is clear that Tomic is struggling. It is an experience that has been shared, on occasions, by the three other youngest players in the world's top 50.

Belgium's David Goffin, 21, did not make it into the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament until this year's French Open, Japan's Kei Nishikori, 22, claimed his second title last weekend, four years after winning his first, and Canada's Milos Raonic, 21, has yet to make a major breakthrough at Grand Slam level.

Goffin is not here, but Nishikori and Raonic are aiming to build on their run to the final in Tokyo last Sunday. Both made winning starts here, Nishikori crushing China's Di Wu 6-2, 6-4 and Raonic beating Australia's Marinko Matosevic 7-6, 6-3.

Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker