I can't bear to watch Bernard Tomic, says first coach Neil Guiney
BY: CHIP LE GRAND From: The Australian November 01, 2012 12:00AM
THE man who built Bernard Tomic's game says he can hardly bear to watch him play any more. Neil Guiney, who coached Tomic from the age of seven until his launch on to the professional tour, says Tomic must decide whether he wants to play tennis for a living or do something else.
"He is just floundering at the moment," the 80-year-old Guiney said from his home in Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast.
"He goes out there and he is really not competing. Once the pressure really comes on, he just folds. No one knows exactly what is going on in Bernard's mind, but he looks to me like a lost soul out there.
"There is a hell of a lot at stake at the moment and he is really at that point in the road where he has got to take stock."
Tomic is back in the news after Gold Coast police were called to an early morning incident at a hotel spa. However, Tomic's problems have less to do with hot tubs than the hot-house pressure of the men's tour where, at age 20, his world ranking and standing in the sport is in steady decline.
As with any athlete having a wretched run, there is no shortage of advice for Tomic from fellow players, coaches and officials. Yet few people outside of Tomic's family know him as well as Guiney, the coach who taught him him to play.
Guiney says the way to tell whether Tomic has his head in the game is to watch his posture when he is receiving serve. If Tomic has his knees bent and his body low, he has come to play. If he is standing upright on the baseline like he is waiting for a bus, he is telling everyone who knows him he is not interested. Too often this year, Guiney has watched Tomic on TV and seen him "standing up like a stick". This was how Tomic waited to return the serve of American Andy Roddick at this year's US Open, where the Australian was accused by commentator John McEnroe of tanking the match.
Guiney remains fond of Tomic and Tomic's father, John, is an unabashed fan of Guiney. In an interview with The Australian this year, John Tomic described Guiney as the best coach in the world.
Guiney believes Tomic's relationship with his father is now part of the problem. "There is a sort of dysfunctional scene out there," he said. "It is a little like a soapie on television.
"One of his problems is Bernard knows a lot more about it than his father now. His father is there calling the tune and screaming and yelling and Bernard just shuts his ears. So you have got a terrible situation there. He is out of his depth and I think John is out of his depth."
Guiney believes the glaring weakness in Tomic's game is his fitness. Where the best players in the world are prepared to run each other ragged in search of major titles, Tomic cannot keep pace. "There is no inventiveness, there is no change of game," Guiney said.
"There is just this constant plod, plod, plod. I think that is in his mind. He is not fit enough to do what he is trying to do and once his bubble is burst or he loses a set, it just gets worse. You don't see him dig in.
"It is every match now. I can hardly bear to watch him. He is not out there fighting. He is going through the motions and going nowhere."