Bernard Tomic should be applauded for his honesty rather than ostracised, Mats Wilander told Reuters, after the Australian was hit by a barrage of criticism for saying he had been bored during his first-round loss at Wimbledon.
Following a lacklustre 6-3 6-4 6-3 defeat by Germany’s Mischa Zverev on Tuesday, Tomic detailed his struggles to stay motivated.
“It’s a roller-coaster and I just can’t seem to find the commitment to work hard, to enjoy, and to lift trophies,” he told reporters. “The last two years, nothing motivates.
“Wasn’t mentally and physically there to perform. I don’t know why, but I felt a little bit bored out there to be completely honest with you.”
His comments irked a number of ex-players including Martina Navratilova who said it was time he looked for a new job, and six-times grand slam doubles champion Rennae Stubbs said Tomic was an embarrassment to himself and to Australian tennis.
But Wilander, in London leading Eurosport’s coverage of Wimbledon, said on Wednesday Tomic was only saying out loud what many players feel.
“Everybody jumped on one or two sentences, that is all. But he is just trying to explain how he feels… what is going on. I guarantee you every single player here at Wimbledon feels or has felt like Tomic is saying he feels,” the Swede said.
“I really appreciate that he was honest about it.”
Former world number one Wilander, who says he experienced similar losses of motivation during his career, believes more honesty is needed to confront these issues.
“We need more honesty out there, but it is hard when you see what the media does to someone who is trying to be honest,” he said.
“Are you saying that Andy Murray was not emotionally flat for some of this year? And I think it is exactly how Novak Djokovic was at the French Open.
“Everybody gets bored or rather emotionally flat sometimes, but most players are not so honest as Tomic. They have sponsors that need to be happy, and they want to keep the tour happy.
“Tomic is young, only 24, but already this is his eighth or ninth Wimbledon. People need to realise that this is a tough, tough individual sport.
“If you don’t get tired or bored then there is something wrong with you – you are not human. People maybe don’t realise that.
“Players try to hide it and try to be the perfect role model, but it is not always so easy.”