Tomic's free fall continues after another early exit
Australian Bernard Tomic admitted that he is "not the smartest person in the world" after exiting the US Open in the first round yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Gilles Muller that could send him tumbling out of the top 150.
Tomic returned to tournament play for the first time since his first-round loss at Wimbledon last month, after which he said he was bored with tennis and had played at 50 per cent for much of his career.
The 24-year-old started brightly by taking the first set off 19th seed Muller, but his lack of match fitness told as, despite frequent treatment from the trainer, he lost the next three sets to bow out at the first hurdle for a third straight Grand Slam.
Having already plummeted from 39th to 146th in the rankings since Wimbledon, Tomic now faces the very real prospect of being forced to request a wildcard from Tennis Australia for his home Grand Slam in Melbourne next January.
In typically candid comments after his match, Tomic said he had his motivation back after his break, but still felt "trapped" in the sport he has played full-time since he was a child, given his lack of other options to fund his lifestyle.
He told the Australian Associated Press: "I mean, it's tough. Everyone has their own work, their own job and it's not like I can go and start real estate or something, restaurants.
"I've got no idea about that."
"Yes, I can afford to do those things, but I've got no idea.
"My job's only to play tennis and it's all I know.
"I'm not going to finish a doctor's degree. I'm not the smartest person in the world."
Tomic's failure to fulfil his huge potential has been a matter of great frustration to his compatriots, and his US Open appearances have featured almost as many controversies as memorable victories.
He bowed out in the first round last year after a foul-mouthed rant at a heckler in the crowd, and was given the unflattering nickname of "Tomic the Tank Engine" after his second-round capitulation against Andy Roddick in 2012.
Tennis Australia's head of performance Wally Masur warned him pre-tournament to be prepared for the grind of the minor tours if he fails to win a match at the US Open.
Tomic, though, reminded journalists he had battled back from a similarly low ranking after double hip surgery in 2014.
"It's no sort of threat for me," he said.
"I've been in this position before and I managed to turn it around quickly.
"It's about being healthy (for) the next six months to a year."