AMID the inevitable wisecracks about ''Tomic the Tank Engine'' that followed yet another limp defeat - this one a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Mikhail Youzhny in Basel, Switzerland - came another, more constructive, social media message from respected Australian coach Darren Cahill.
Tomic's lacklustre year shows he's no Hewitt
Though once touted as Lleyton Hewitt's heir apparent, Bernard Tomic's form raises serious doubts about his ability to become a serious contender.
''Someone needs to put Bernie Tomic on the Flying Kangaroo,'' Cahill tweeted. ''[His] year was done weeks ago. Charge up the batteries, get faster and stronger for 2013.''
Good advice, clearly, but is Team Tomic listening?
After the Queenslander's infamous ''about 85 per cent'' effort in his first-round loss to Florian Mayer at the Shanghai Masters, which came not long after that ''disgraceful'' (refer Pat Rafter) US Open display against Andy Roddick, Tomic spoke candidly about his exhaustion at the end of what he insists was a poorly-plotted year.
Despite being scheduled - by himself and his father, incidentally - to play another three tournaments in 2012, Tomic's plans were uncertain and his wish to return home for an extended training period obvious.
Thus, when the world No. 48 promptly withdrew from the Stockholm Open, citing fatigue, it seemed the curtain may have fallen on a troubled season that started so promisingly in Australia in January but has not delivered a single win over a top-40 player in the nine months since.
Instead, curiously, Tomic fronted up to the Swiss Indoors, drew the veteran Youzhny in the first round and won just eight points in the first set and two games in a 57-minute rout. So why was he out there?
''Good question,'' Tennis Australia's director of tennis Craig Tiley told The Age yesterday. ''You'll have to ask Bernie that question, because I'll certainly be asking that … We've got to have a little chat and see where he's at but probably more than anything he needs a break.''
Tiley was reserving judgment until the full picture emerged but acknowledged the fine line the 20-year-old is walking.
Perceptions of competitiveness can differ ''but you can tell pretty much when someone's really putting everything on the line, and every young kid in Australia who wants to become a tennis player, Bernard included, has to put it on the line every single point''.
Other changes are required, notably the need to replace John Tomic as his son's lifelong coach, for it is not a happy camp, nor is it any longer a productive one.
Cahill believes Roger Rasheed, the former coach of Lleyton Hewitt and Gael Monfils, would be a good fit.
Rasheed joined the Twitter debate from Paris with: ''OK, time for Bernard Tomic to sit down with his father and work out what he wants from the sport - a long-term plan and enjoyment needed.''
A Tennis Australia coaches' meeting is scheduled for next month and the results of the annual review will be known in mid-November.
The Tomic situation will be a priority.