At 14, Bernard Tomic was aiming to be the world’s No.1 tennis player, win all the grand slams in one year and beat Roger Federer.
“I would like to have the heart of Lleyton Hewitt and the groundstrokes of Roger Federer,” he said at the time.
That was 10 years ago. Now, as he told Sunday Night’s Melissa Doyle, he would tell that young boy not to play tennis.
“Do something you love and enjoy because it’s a grind and it’s a tough, tough life,” he said.
“My position is that I’m trapped. I have to do it but that 14-year-old kid has a choice.”
When shown footage of himself speaking to the cameras as a young tennis prodigy, Tomic’s lip trembled. “You almost made me cry,” he told Doyle.
Tomic said he was talking now because he wanted to be honest with the Australian public about who he is, how he is feeling about his life and where he sees his career going.
“Not many things can make me happy. That’s my honest opinion,” he said.
“Maybe if I get the chance to win a grand slam, that’s when I can be really happy because then you do what you’ve been aiming to do all of your career.
“So maybe I can win a grand slam and be really happy.
“We’ll have to find out.”
Tomic made no excuses for his recent Wimbledon behaviour where he was bundled out in the first round, under accusations of tanking.
In his post-match interview after the loss to Mischa Zverev, Tomic raised the ire of many when he said he doesn’t “respect it [tennis] enough” and that he “felt a little bit bored” on court.
“In my honest opinion, I wasn’t motivated in the last four or five months. I was just going through the motions,” he told Doyle.
“I don’t regret what I said. It might look a bit bad the way I said that and we Australians don’t like that. We don’t like those sorts of comments. That’s why I said it, to piss people off.”
Despite the rage from several quarters, Tomic hit out at only one critic during the Channel Seven interview – Australia’s favourite son, former Davis Cup captain and two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter.
“Pat’s said a lot of bad things about me and about my career over the years and he is always perceived as this nice guy and people who don’t know him behind the back of doors. He’s not that nice guy. He likes to put on a show.”
Doyle asked him if he was “cracking the shits” because he hadn’t achieved everything his 14-year-old self had dreamed.
He denied it, saying he had still achieved huge wealth – though at a price.
“I didn’t come from a rich family. We had no money. Nobody knows what sort of life we had. We came to Australia with basically nothing. It was tough,” he said.
“Now I can go buy a car worth a million dollars and live in lavish houses, well it’s my choice.
“Achieving, in my opinion, a lot it has affected me mentally and emotionally. Now it is about finding my balance and pushing on for the next 10 years.”
Will he ever find a love for tennis?
“No no no. I’m just going to do it as a job.”
In the meantime, until he gets his mojo back, what about those who are saving their money to see him play?
“Don’t come. Just watch on TV. You don’t have to pay anything to watch it on TV.”
— sunday night (@sundaynighton7) July 23, 2017