It was probably the most anticipated first round matchup of the 2014 Australian Open: Australian Bernard Tomic vs. #1 Rafael Nadal. However, it only lasted 41 minutes before Tomic withdrew due to an injury to his groin, which happened during practice on Monday.
“I feel sorry because the crowd came and it was difficult for me. I did what’s best for me. The crowd have to understand that,” Tomic later explained of his predicament with the injury, which he suffered in practice on Monday and which flared almost immediately after the commencement of the first-round match.
“It was sad. It’s unfortunate. You know, this opportunity I had to play against Rafa was huge for me. (I) could have used a lot of it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t compete. It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd. I don’t think they quite knew what was wrong with me. After, when I told them it was my leg, they sort of started to be on my side, which is good that I heard that in the end from their applause.”
Something was off with Tomic from the beginning, and he took a medical timeout after the third game. The staff strapped his leg and he appeared better, but nothing worked. Nadal forced him to move all over the court, which only aggravated the injury more. Nadal took the first set and Tomic could not go on.
Even though he had a legitimate reason to withdraw it is not going to help Tomic’s image. The 21-year-old is not one of the most popular players, even in his home country. His father is banned from all grand slam tournaments and the local media think Tomic is lazy and does not work hard. Before the tournament pictures circulated of him parting and receiving lap dances from young ladies. The public thought he should be paying more attention to the game.
Nadal, who missed seven months due to bad knees, felt sympathy for Tomic.
“I felt really sorry for Bernard,” he said.
“I was in that situation a few years ago and I know how tough it is to take that decision.
“But if you feel bad, there is no reason why you have to continue. You put in risk the next tournaments for nothing because if you are in bad shape, the chances to win a match like this are very few.”