AUSTRALIAN coach Roger Rasheed believes Bernard Tomic needs to find a "happy place” away from the tennis court if he is to ever fully realise his potential in the sport.
Tomic's mental state came under question again on Wednesday when he retired mid-match against Donald Young at the ATP event in Acapulco after complaining about the heat.
After losing a tight first-set tiebreak, Tomic retired without calling a trainer, reportedly citing "unbearable heat” despite the temperatures in the Mexican city only reaching around 28 degrees Celsius during the match.
Rasheed, who has coached former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt among many players, believes something is seriously wrong with Tomic's emotional state.
"My concerns mainly for Bernie are sort of not tennis-related,” Rasheed told Fox Sports News 500.
"At the moment, I would be more concerned about the emotional state. I'd be looking off the court.
"I really think there's a period in his life now that there needs to be some stability, starting with off the court hopefully venturing to a happy place on the court.
"That would be my concern if I was looking at that. To see what his mental state of mind is because it's obvious it's not transferring to a happy place on the tennis court.”
Tomic's latest defeat took his season ATP win-loss record to a sorry 2-5 - after the Acapulco event last year (where he finished runner-up), he was 12-6 - and he has lost in the first round in his last three tournaments.
His only wins in 207 have been in two matches at the Australian Open. He also lost both his matches at the Kooyong exhibition event in January.
Rasheed said the tone for Tomic's season was set when he turned up out of shape to a Brisbane event and was beaten in the opening round.
"It hasn't been the start that Bernie's wanted, there's no doubt about that,” Rasheed said.
"Especially at the end of the last year with the expectations that he would have a good year. It's not the start you want.
"I think if you look back at Brisbane, where he probably wasn't in the best condition, and he admitted that as well.
"Those signs are very clear that you haven't prepared yourself the right way. So I'm not surprised by some of the results. The proof is in the pudding a little bit.”
Asked if the problems were mental or simply a lack of conditioning, Rasheed said Tomic hasn't been preparing himself properly and that a sea change in attitude is required.
"There's a culture change that's definitely needed there, there's no doubt about that,” Rasheed said.
"It's really important to decide just where you want to be in the game and if your expectations are that you feel you can be a top-10 player then I think you've got to live and breathe that sort of mentality.
"And there's nothing around Bernie that suggests that's where it sits - and it hasn't been for a long time now.
"You can't just dial that in and expect to just walk into a top-10 position or play week-in, week-out tennis like that without some structures, some disciplines around you and also some leadership qualities around you, which I don't think he has.
"And that's the bottom line, that's as honest as you'd want to be. You can't fake being a world-class player and you can't fake being a top-10 player.”
What made Tomic's withdrawal from his match against Young even more bizarre is that he played in a doubles match only a couple of hours later, pairing up with Italian Paolo Lorenzi in a 7-5 6-3 loss to John Isner and Felciano Lopez.
Rasheed agreed that the situation was farcical and that the ATP must tweak their rules to ensure it doesn't happen again, arguing the welfare of the affected player is paramount.
"My strong opinion on the situation is once you've withdrawn from your singles match on that day I think you're automatically ineligible to play any further that day because the general wellbeing of the athlete must be the priority,” Rasheed said.
"For Bernie, this happened to be supposedly heat related. I know Acapulco, I love the tournament.
"I've been there a number of times, there is some heat attached to it but if it is heat attached then the general wellbeing of that person and the body needs 24 hours to recover and do the right thing.
"To go back out and push yourself on a tennis court two or three hours later to play doubles, I think it sort of makes a mockery of the event and also does you no favours at all because everyone is asking the same questions: 'How can you actually get yourself out there and play a doubles match when you couldn't actually sustain any time on a tennis court in your singles match?'
"It's a flaw in the rulings, which I think sooner rather than later the (ATP) Tour will look at and try and modify and get that right.”
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