Bernard Tomic’s camp insists their charge was severely provoked into hurling a foul-mouthed spray at a heckler during his first-round defeat at the US Open in New York.
Tomic apologised after telling his taunter to “suck my balls” during a disappointing 6-4 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-0) loss to Damir Dzumhur on Tuesday.
“I will put my balls in your mouth” and “I will give you some money to make you feel good,” Tomic added in separate exchanges and for all to hear on the Old Grandstand court at Flushing Meadows.
French umpire Cedric Mourier advised Tomic to go through the official channels rather than take matters into his own hands.
“He was saying some s**t,” Tomic said to Mourier when the umpire questioned why he’d lashed out.
“It’s better you go through me than try to solve it by yourself,” Mourier said.
Tomic later said he snapped after being abused by the fan as well as other spectators who he claimed sledged him in his mother tongue.
“He was just baiting me a bit. You know, I don’t want to get into it. I apologised for what I said to him,” Tomic told reporters.
“After he left the first set, I think the crowd got happy he left because he was a bit annoying.”
Tomic refused to go into detail, other than to say “it was negative stuff”, but his manager David Drysdale later said the 23-year-old was a victim of some vulgar abuse.
“The guy was at him all the way through the first set, calling Bernie a pussy and telling Bernie to go and have a cry with his little pussy girlfriend,” Drysdale said.
“No one should have to cop that.”
The heckler also told Tomic he’d be thrashed by fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios if they met in a projected all-Australian third-round contest.
“There was some stuff in the background as I was playing balls and returning. It’s tough,” Tomic said.
“I watched a little bit today of (Janko) Tipsarevic also and (Sam) Querrey. There were some similar situations with the crowd yelling and people talking in between points. Big points, I should say.
“It was maybe not good that the crowd got too excited or sometimes speaking in the points. It’s not fair.”
Tomic said fans of his Bosnian opponent down the other end of the court apologised for their abuse.
“They were saying some negative stuff to me, in my language of Serbian-Croatian. The microphones didn’t pick that up. But I obviously caught the blame for that,” he said.
“My mother is Bosnian. Obviously I understand the language.”
It’s Tomic’s second slip of the tongue in two months, with the 23-year-old forced to apologise at Wimbledon after saying he was left stranded “like a retard” on court for several minutes waiting for his first-round opponent to arrive.
He went unpunished for that faux pas but faces almost certain sanctioning by the ITF for his latest incident.
Tomic’s drama-charged defeat also scuppered hopes of a first-time showdown with Kyrgios later this week.
“I think everyone sort of looked far ahead and prospected me and Nick in the third round,” he said.
“I think everyone wanted to see that. The media was too focused on that.
“I didn’t give everyone what they wanted. So full credit to the player I played today.”