Tomic, who has been criticized in the past for "tanking" — or
deliberately not playing to his full ability during matches — had
appeared uncomfortable from the outset under the lights at Rod Laver
Arena, and took a medical time-out at the change of ends when
The 21-year-old later ripped a bandage off his high left thigh at
the urging off his camp and played out the set restricted and
grimacing after points.
With the set lost at 6-4, 57th-ranked Tomic returned to his chair
and shook his head at medical staff. After walking over to Nadal to
tell him he would no longer go on, sections of the crowd booed,
underlining local fans' frustration with a talent long criticized
for lacking wholehearted commitment.
"It was sad. It's unfortunate. This opportunity I had to play
against Rafa was huge for me," Tomic told reporters.
"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
"After, when he got that break (at 4-4), he was serving for the set,
hit one ball, and I felt it even more. I thought, 'Am I really going
to do this, spend a few more hours on court hurting my body?'
"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."
[to top of second column]
Top seed Nadal, who will play 17-year-old Australian wildcard
Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, had sympathy for Tomic,
who was kicked off Australia's Davis Cup team in 2012 for
The Spaniard retired hurt during the 2010 quarter-finals when
two sets down against Briton Andy Murray.
"I felt really sorry for Bernard. I was in that situation a few
years ago and I know how tough is to take that decision," Nadal
"But if you feel bad, there is no reason why you have to
continue. You put in risk the next tournaments for nothing."
Spaniard Nadal, the 2009 winner at Melbourne Park, missed last
year's tournament with a stomach flu which delayed his comeback
from a knee injury, but could take little from his opening match
barring the fact that he conserved energy on a stifling evening.
"Days like today, tomorrow that will be very hot, it's better to
save little bit of energy," he said.
(Editing by Patrick Johnston and Justin Palmer)
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