MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Bernard Tomic's on-court commitment has come under renewed scrutiny after the Australian played match point holding his racquet backwards in defeat to Fabio Fognini at the Madrid Open.
Tomic, down 0-40 as Italian Fognini sought to serve out the match at 6-2 5-4, held his racquet by the head with the handle pointing forward and barely moved as his opponent fired an ace past him to seal the win.
News of the stunt triggered a storm of criticism in his home country and on social media from tennis pundits.
"Bernard Tomic has stated before he believes he is a top 10 player, but he won’t be top 10 in anyone’s books with continued displays of petulance like this," News Ltd media said.
World number 22 Tomic was nicknamed 'Tomic the Tank Engine' after accusations he 'tanked' -- or failed to try his best -- in a loss to Andy Roddick at the 2012 U.S. Open.
The 23-year-old also holds the record for the quickest loss at a Masters-level tournament on the ATP Tour after being smashed 6-0 6-1 in 28 minutes by Finn Jarkko Nieminen in Miami in 2014.
Tomic came under fire in the leadup to the Australian Open for retiring during his Sydney International quarter-final after telling the chair umpire his mind was on the year's first grand slam. He later claimed to have suffered food poisoning.
Tomic created further controversy during a Davis Cup match against the United States in Melbourne in March when he publicly criticized team mate Nick Kyrgios for withdrawing from the tie with illness.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)