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Tomic under fire after criticizing schedule


Australia's Bernard Tomic returns a shot against Marin Cilic of Croatia at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
Australia's Bernard Tomic returns a shot against Marin Cilic of Croatia at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

By Julian Linden

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian teen-ager Bernard Tomic has fallen out with Australian Open officials after criticizing their scheduling of their night-time matches.

The 17-year-old took a swipe at the organizers after his second round match against Croatian Marin Cilic Wednesday did not finish until after 2am the next day.

"I requested to play during the day, and it didn't happen, I think it's ridiculous," Tomic said immediately after his 6-7 6-3 4-6 6-2 6-4 loss.

"Name me any sport you play at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Especially me, at my age, it's difficult.

"I have no excuses but I think if I'd have played during the day, which I requested, it could have been all changed."

Tomic is widely regarded as the man most likely to emerge as Australia's next great player after winning the Australian and U.S. Open junior titles but has always courted controversy.

He is the youngest man in professional tennis to win a match at the Australian Open after he made his grand slam debut as a 16-year-old in 2008 and displayed composure beyond his tender years when he pushed Cilic, ranked 14th in the world, to the brink in the second round this time.

He has risen almost 500 places in the world rankings in the last year but has already been embroiled in a series of public rows with Tennis Australia and officials were unimpressed with his latest outburst, ordering the teen-ager to a meeting.

"If there doesn't become a change in his behavior, it becomes extremely hard for him to excel at the top echelons of the sport," Australian Open director Craig Tiley said.

"At some point, and I've said this to Bernard, he needs to be responsible for who he has around him and the decision he makes and what he says.

"He's the one who has to be hauled to task for what he says and what he does."

Shortly after the meeting, Tomic fronted a packed news conference to explain his earlier comments.

"When I finished and lost, which I was a point or two away from winning, I got a little bit upset and said those things. Right now, I'm thinking totally different. If they pick me ever again to play, I will play anyway," he said.

"(I) haven't learned anything. What's there to learn? I just finished the match...what was I supposed to say?

"It was 2:00 in the morning. Hopefully, the next schedule will be during the day when I play.

"I'm not trying to make any excuses, but I go to sleep at like 9:00, 10:00 normally. It's way past my bedtime."

There was little sympathy for Tomic from his peers, including Lleyton Hewitt, who slugged it out with Marcos Baghdatis two years ago in a match that did not finish until 4.34am.

"If you get scheduled at night, that's what's gonna happen. You gotta be prepared for that," Hewitt said.

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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