Tennis Birthdays – Oct. 21, 2015

An enigmatic Aussie celebrates.

Bernard Tomic (AUS), 23

It’s hard to believe that Bernard Tomic turns 23 today – nearly two years younger than Milos Raonic, to name just one. It seems he’s been around forever.

He celebrates it (hopefully not TOO well – remember No. 21?) at a career high of No. 18 in singles, after beating Verdasco, Gasquet and Ferrer (all current or former top 10 players) before giving the seemingly unbeatable Novak Djokovic a major tussle in the first set of the Shanghai quarter-finals.

The effort moved his earnings for the year over the $1 million mark.

To watch him when he’s firing on all cylinders, fully engaged, is to watch a player who almost requires high-level tennis knowledge to fully appreciate. It’s just smooth as silk, so effortless, even if the forehand isn’t textbook. He probably could be so much better, too, but it’s hard to know if there’s the will to make this happen, or even the likelihood of it as long as Papa John is in the picture.

On the plus side, they're beautifully coordinated.

                   On the plus side, they’re beautifully coordinated.

Away from the court on his best days, Tomic is a whole ‘nother thing although the arrival of “badder boy” Nick Kyrgios has taken some of the spotlight and pressure off of him.

In the immortal Aussie parlance, he has hung with “schoolies”, been called a “toolie”, got pulled over for “hooning“, and had the egregious bad taste to get a very fancy sports car in … orange.

Tennis players are generally behind the curve on the maturity charts anyway. And athletes like Tomic, who come from modest circumstances only to find themselves with some major bank rather early in life, with no training or family around them to help them navigate it all, tend to get into fixes like this. But he’s not a bad kid, and hopefully it’s all a learning process.

As for the tennis, it’s too early to say whether Tomic is part of that next-gen generation (with Raonic, Nishikori, Dimitrov) that might come and go without threatening the status quo – and in fact even be overtaken by the next-next-gen that is currently starting to make a move. There’s a place for him, but he has yet to carve it out.

Needless to say, he “celebrated” his birthday by dropping a perfectly winnable match in Moscow to Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.


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