Bernard Tomic (in photo) attracts plenty of attention for what goes on off the court but get this guy on to the grass and I tell you here is a kid waiting to do something special. Tomic, in terms of ability, has what it takes but he needs to have the support in place to get him out on to the court in the best shape to win tennis matches.
I know young Tomic very well and he is a lovely young man. He has spent some time over at the academy in Florida and was back there earlier this year with his dad, John. I get on with John. He told me that I am one of the few people that Bernard likes to have around and will listen to and trust the information. Now I don’t imagine Mr Tomic says that about too many people!
It’s a touchy subject, what is going on with his dad, and I understand why Wimbledon can’t let him in. We will just have to wait and see what happens with him but it is an old issue in the sport: what role should the parent play? I have seen plenty come and go through the academy over the years. And I have known some great ones around the game — old Granma Connors, Jimmy’s mother Gloria, was one, a real pillar for her boy. The Chang family were very successful in looking after Michael and there was nobody nicer than Chris Evert’s dad, Jimmy. And, of course, there are the Williams. You know in all the years I have had dealings with them I never once heard Richard raise his voice. But I reckon those are the exceptions — having mum and dad too closely involved is not the most productive route to success. Too close a relationship in terms of sport more often than not proves a negative. Sure, they can be around, and having them there can be important as part of the team that surrounds a player — the guy on the other side of the net today, James Blake, is a good example of that. But leave the rest to the coach and player — and I am not a big fan of fathers being coaches either. If a parent is a coach and there are other children in the family, what happens? What if the dad has a job? How does it work? There is one simple thing here. If a player is split between a parent and a coach then there will only be losers and no one will lose more than the kid.
But let’s get back on to the court and Tomic. He is a player. Blake, with his movement and consistency, will work him but Tomic is not far from the big breakthrough. Winning that first round five-setter against Sam Querry was important for him. I know he is angry about his dad not being let in but if he can concentrate on the court then he can go far.
I call him the sleeping giant. He looks dozy and you never quite know what to expect but then — wham! — his opponent is lulled and Tomic bites him on the arse. I love watching this guy. He can fool you into thinking there is nothing there but he has everything, the serve, the groundies. And his movement — this is classic Tomic. You think he is a slow mover and all of a sudden, whoosh, he’s there. If he can sort out what is going on off the court he can fly high, touch the stars. He is no longer the new kid on the block, he has been a pro since 2008, but is still only 20. According to the ages now he still has three, four years to mature. I just hope whatever is taking place off the court, his private life, including his support team, comes together. He has all the ability not just to be a good player, top 20 say, but to be a top player on the tour, single figures and counting. the independent