For his first grand slam flop, Bernard Tomic could not have picked a more unforgiving environment than the US Open.
New Yorkers are renowned for being boisterous and when they pay to watch sporting events, they expect to be entertained.
With all the hype surrounding the Wimbledon quarter-finalist, there were long queues for Tomic’s match against Marin Cilic on court 17.
The fans did not witness much of a show.
If it had been a Broadway production, they might have been booed off after half an hour.
Instead of viewing the blossoming of the sport’s next champion on a warm afternoon, they saw an outwitted 18-year-old capitulate 6-1 6-0 6-2 in 80 minutes.
A handful of the Flushing Meadows crowd cruelly questioned Tomic’s effort during his lethargic display, while many voted with their feet by exiting the court after three quarters of an hour.
The accusations were unfair.
The youngest player in the field is not an overly-demonstrative character on the court.
He had a dirty day against a player who knew all of his tricks and he might not have been in as good a health as he made out.
Tomic tried to change the momentum of the match by briefly leaving the court after the first set and calling for the trainer in the second set.
But nothing worked.
“That score line was insane but he deserved it, the way he played,” Tomic said.
Had he had a worse defeat?
“Not at this level,” Tomic said. “I have played a few challengers and got a beating like this and in the juniors I got a beating like this. You learn from things like this.
“You are not going to be a good tennis player in the future if you don’t learn.”
Cilic said it had to be expected that at Tomic’s age, he would have such days.
“You always have big ups and downs and it is not easy coming up when people expect you to play well all the time,” Cilic said.
“But you are still learning.”
With the state of Australian men’s tennis, the nation can’t afford such latitude.
Australia has a shot of breaking back into the World Group in a Davis Cup tie against Switzerland in Sydney in a fortnight.
With the extent of Lleyton Hewitt’s troublesome foot injury still unknown, Australia’s hopes against a potential Swiss double act of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka rely mainly on Tomic.
While that might appear daunting, the teenager relished the chance to play Federer after blowing his opportunity for a third-round meeting against the five-time champion at Flushing Meadows. “I am disappointed. I would have loved to have played him. He is probably the best player in history,” Tomic said.
“Might get a chance soon in the Davis Cup if he comes.”
Tomic’s demise was part of a forgettable day for Australia.
American world No.103 Vania King thumped a wayward Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2 6-0, the 29th seed’s defeat stretching her mid-season slump to seven losses in eight matches.
Gajdosova appeared on the verge of cracking the top 20 in May. Now she must stop a worrying slide after producing 102 unforced errors in four sets in New York.
Jelena Dokic was bounced out by 2008 finalist Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-4, the Australian’s lack of practice due to shoulder problems returning to haunt her as she delivered 15 double faults.