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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia reacted with indignation and some concern on Thursday to Bernard Tomic's admission after a lacklustre first round defeat at Wimbledon that he was struggling to care about his results at major tournaments.
Tomic's comments came two days after the exit of Australia's other main men's hope Nick Kyrgios, who has had his own struggles with motivation and once said he did not even much like the game that gave him his living.
Kyrgios cut short his opener at the All England Club because of a hip problem but Tomic limped out with a listless 6-3 6-4 6-3 first-round defeat at the hands of Germany's Mischa Zverev.
His remarks afterwards sparked outrage among some of his predecessors in the top echelons of the game in Australia, a nation that has always prided itself on its mental toughness in the sporting arena.
Some closer to Tomic's home on the Gold Coast, however, were more concerned that the "mental issues" the 24-year-old admitted to having on court were indicative of wider problems for the once child prodigy.
Neil Guiney, who coached Tomic from the age of seven until his early teens, was not surprised by Tomic's words, which he felt might herald the end of his career.
"I've been expecting this for a long time," he told the Gold Coast Bulletin. "I just got the feeling that this is how things would draw to a close.
"He's never had the drive really since he was very, very young.
"He's talking about 'I'll play on for so many years and that will set me up for life'... he won't get in the draw, his ranking will drop down, down, down.
"The writing's been on the wall for a long time."
Tennis Gold Coast president Mike Ford, who has also known Tomic since he was a child, called for the player to be left alone.
"He's obviously going through a very dark period. He needs time and he needs space," he told the paper.
"I heard a commentator say he's taking up the spot of someone else -- no he isn't. He earned the spot, he's entitled to the prize money.
"Not many realise the work he had to do. He trained at Queens Park in Southport, was there every day with this dad, 11, 12, 13 years old and grinded himself into the court, hour after hour... I don't forget those sort of things."
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien