SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian star Bernard Tomic admits he has no love for a game that has earned him millions, saying it is just a job and he feels "trapped".
In a frank Australian television interview, the 24-year-old told his fans to stay at home rather than paying to watch him play if they were opposed to his polarising on-court antics.
"Don't come," Tomic said late Sunday (July 23).
"Just watch on TV, you don't have to pay anything."
Tomic, who was hit with a US$15,000 (S$20,400) fine after he claimed he was "bored" during his lacklustre first-round defeat at Wimbledon last month, said he oscillates between full commitment and apathy on court.
"Throughout my career I've given 100 per cent. I've given also 30 per cent. But if you balance it out, I think all my career's been around 50 per cent," he said in the interview.
"I haven't really tried, and (still) achieved all this. So it's just amazing what I've done."
The talented Tomic has long been plagued by controversy, making headlines last year when he turned his racquet the wrong way to face a match point against Fabio Fognini in Madrid.
Once mooted as a rising star of the sport, he has slid down the rankings to 73 from a career-high 17 and added: "I'm just going to go about it as a job."
Tomic divides opinion in Australia and there was both criticism and support following his latest candid revelations.
He has had a fractious relationship with Tennis Australia, which dropped him from the Davis Cup team, but the organisation's head of performance Wally Masur expressed sympathy Monday.
"Bernie has been ultra-professional since he was 14 and it's almost like he's suffering some sort of burn-out at the moment," Masur told reporters.
'DON'T PLAY TENNIS'
The tabloid Sydney Daily Telegraph pulled no punches: "Few people lose any sleep over Bernard Tomic these days.
"As a nation Australia has become accustomed to the tennis brat's shameful performances on the tennis court and off it, and his window of forgiveness is now barely a centimetre wide, if it's even there at all." But he won a more sympathetic hearing on social media.
"Tough to watch because Tomic is a talent that doesn't realise his potential. Needs guidance and direction," tweeted Australian football star Tim Cahill.
Aussie NBA basketballer Andrew Bogut said on social media: "Watched Tomic interview. Will cop flak for my opinion: His family is the root of most of what's going on. Hope he finds peace + bounces back." Asked during his interview to provide advice to aspiring tennis players, Tomic was blunt.
"Don't play tennis. Do something you love and enjoy because it's a grind and it's a tough, tough, tough life. My position, I'm trapped. I have to do it," he said.
"Tennis chose me. It's something I never fell in love with." He also stood by his inflammatory comments after being controversially eliminated at Wimbledon by German Mischa Zverev.
"I don't regret what I said. That's why I said it - to piss a few people off," he said.
"I didn't come from a rich family. We had no money.
"And now living in all these lavish houses and property around the world, it's my choice. It's something that I've worked for." Tomic was axed by his racquet sponsor just hours after his Wimbledon fine, deeming his behaviour unacceptable.