BERNARD Tomic's use of his racquet as a gardening fork after his surprise first-round Wimbledon loss prompted more than just a $2500 fine and official rebuke from the All England club, with Tennis Australia also ordering Tomic to apologise for ''unacceptable'' behaviour.
Repairs were needed after the 20th seed chopped up the court two grass near the service line as he walked to the net to shake hands with his Belgian conqueror David Goffin. And if the All England club was not impressed by Tomic's excavation work, then neither, it seems, was Tennis Australia, which ensured he conveyed his contrition to tournament organisers.
''You just can't do that,'' said TA director of tennis Craig Tiley. ''We certainly had words with Bernard. It was not acceptable, and something that we don't condone.
''We made him apologise to Wimbledon. We shouldn't be talking about behaviour to professional athletes. They're out there making a living and developing a name and a profile for themselves and, in many ways, we also have the attitude that they punish themselves when they do things that are not acceptable because they get scorned by the public, as well.''
Tomic failed to defend his 2011 quarter-final points at Wimbledon and, after reaching a career-high ranking of 27 in June, won just one of his eight matches before reaching the third round last week in Cincinnati, where he lost 6-2, 6-4 to Roger Federer. The Queenslander, who will be unseeded at the US Open, starting on Monday, admitted in London that he had not been working hard enough in preceding months.
''Bernie's an adult now. He can't hide behind being a kid any more, so he's got to start making [the right] decisions himself,'' said Tiley, while stressing that Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter and TA's head of professional tennis, Todd Woodbridge, were continuing to work with Tomic and his coach/father John.
Tiley also defended the allocation of another grand slam wildcard to 31-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 US Open winner, rather than an emerging player. ''It's not just looking at Lleyton in isolation. You've got to look at: Are the next young players in line really ready to take advantage of it? And I think some of them are getting certainly a lot closer,'' Tiley said.
''But you've got to be careful about providing too many wildcards to the young players, because then there's an expectation that they're just going to be at that level without actually having the game to back it up, to win, so that's one of the factors we also consider.
''If you just look at Lleyton getting the wildcard, I'm sure people would say, 'Oh, he's too old, and he shouldn't get it', and I'm sure that would be said publicly, but what the public probably wouldn't know is all the other conversations that take place around who should get it, and what are their development plans.''
Five Australians - Sam Stosur, Jarmila Gajdosova, Tomic, Marinko Matosevic and Matt Ebden - have earned direct main draw singles entry at Flushing Meadows, where the qualifying event starts tonight. Casey Dellacqua received the women's wildcard available under Australia's reciprocal arrangement with the USTA.