Only four days after happily admitting to the press that he had used gamesmanship as a main tactic to come back from two sets to love down against Fernando Verdasco, Tomic decided to take things even further while fighting for his life in a fifth set against Dolgopolov.
This time, he decided to channel Justine Henin by stopping mid-point and putting his hand up to issue out a challenge. When Ramos appeared to have not seen Tomic’s gesture and Dolgopolov hit an error after assuming that the point had been stopped, Tomic made the decision to act like nothing happened, before flat-out lying when asked on-court.
After clinching the fifth set and match, his take on the incident afterwards was very telling;
Q. What happened at the end of the first game in the fifth set.
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, it was a long rally, a slice rally. Four, five slices and he hit the ball long. I knew the ball was long called, but I looked to the umpire’s chair because I sort of had my head down. I knew where the shot was. So even though I liked to the ref to see what his reaction was, because I didn’t hear him, I didn’t say a thing.
I knew I got the slice back. It was on my frame. I was looking at him whether he was going to say “out,” but I continued to play. He thought I was going to challenge it. Got lucky I didn’t say anything.
Q. So in your mind you didn’t challenge?
BERNARD TOMIC: No, I didn’t challenge but I looked ‑‑ sometimes before the ref says “out” and overrules, he lifts his arm.
At that time when he didn’t say “out,” I continued to play. So I went like that. Alex thought I was challenging, and I didn’t focus on that shot.
After Henin’s ‘Hand’ incident, Serena Williams later described her actions as “lying and fabricating”. If this isn’t the very Oxford dictionary definition of lying and fabricating, I don’t know what is.
Umpire Sergio Ramos has to shoulder sine of the blame after completely missing Tomic’s gesture, but Tomic’s actions both on and off-court were abhorrent at best. The Australian came into this event as one of the most polarizing players in tennis, but at this point it is fairly clear that he is going to leave it simply as one of the most hated. And for good reason.