Why Roger Federer has got the last laugh on Bernard Tomic

ROGER Federer honestly analysed Bernard Tomic and found him wanting.

Eleven months ago, the 17-time grand slam champion uncharacteristically went out on a ledge to shoot down Tomic’s top 10 ranking aspirations — and he’s been completely validated for providing his forthright opinion.

At the time, Tomic had reached a career-high ranking of No. 17 on the ATP World Tour and had made an impressive run through to the semi-finals of the Brisbane International on the eve of the Australian Open.

Roger Federer laugh on Bernard Tomic

Federer was not fooled when seemingly everyone else was so ready and desperate to accept Tomic’s declaration of intent to crack a single-digit ranking.

Here we are a year down the track and Tomic has slid to No. 26 on the ATP rankings and still many are ready to eat up the same words. The same vanilla rhetoric without any supporting evidence or action. The same white noise.

Tomic on Wednesday declared he has a new mindset that will keep him out of trouble and into the top 10 in 2017.

“I would like to reach the top 10 mark,” he said. “I’m not the best. I’m not the brightest, but we all have our problems. I think the main thing is I’m doing what I love and I really respect the sport.

“No one can help myself more than I can — that’s up to me. Mentality is the key. It’s why the top five, top 10 are so good — it’s something I lack.”

It’s the same promise he made 12 months ago before running through to the fourth round of the Australian Open and then inevitably falling off the rails in new, inventive and unprofessional ways throughout the 2016 ATP World Tour.

In March, Tomic said Nick Kyrgios had “lost a little of my respect” when the younger tennis brat made himself unavailable for Davis Cup selection.

He then joined forces with Kyrgios to make himself unavailable for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, citing a busy schedule.

Then Bernard really dropped the ball when he was fined $13,000 for telling a courtside heckler at the US Open he would “put my balls in your mouth”.

As Federer would now be able to remind him, there is a big difference between sitting at the front of the peloton and being in the thick of the breakaway group.

“Many seasons now in a row we have seen or heard that top 10 is the goal, and he’s missed out on it by a long shot,” said Federer, before the 2016 Australian Open.

“I think before speaking so highly, maybe it’s good to take it to the next level, whatever that is. We shall see.”

We have now seen.

Tomic may be 24-years-old and had to deal with a troublesome abdominal injury throughout 2016, but the time of potential is over. That ship has sailed. There is no natural improvement left in his game. It’s time to deliver — and he has shown nothing to suggest that will change in the coming 12 months.

Dominic Thiem (23), Kyrgios (21) and Lucas Pouille (22) are all younger than Tomic — and all are ranked higher.

Tomic is stalled. He is the cautionary tail Kyrgios can look at with fear and desperately try to avoid. It’s impossible not to think of Tomic when reading the advice Federer gave to Kyrgios earlier this year.

“The advice I would give him, just that he’s aware of the fact how important the next couple of years are,” Federer said about Kyrgios in January.

“Otherwise the train leaves the station and you’re maybe not on it. It would be a pity to waste talent and all that even more so in this day and age because I feel talent brought you further back in the day.

“Just talking about a guy who has talent and potential, I can’t hear it anymore.

“Too many guys have talent. Too many guys are working hard. I don’t believe in that very much anymore.

“I think he’s a great player. He’s got sick power, and it’s going to take him a long way.

“I just think the next couple years are going to be so crucial for him, and I just hope he’s aware of that fact.”

If only Tomic had heard this when he was the same age as Kyrgios. Since first breaking into the ATP’s rankings top 50 in October, 2011, Tomic has bounced around the rankings list with a career high point of No. 17, but his current rank of No. 26 boils down his progress in the past five years to a modest climb from a No. 49 ranked future star to a No. 26 ranked player at the crossroads.

Tomic has wasted those crucial years and — despite his annual declaration of intent — he is most certainly not on that train.

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