BERNARD Tomic's year from hell has continued with a disastrous first-round US Open loss in New York.
In his first match since being fined a record $US15,000 for saying he was "a little bored" during his first-round Wimbledon loss to Mischa Zverev, Tomic went down 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 to 19th seed Gilles Muller.
The defeat means Tomic will likely slump to 147th in the rankings, leaving the one-time grand slam quarter-finalist and world No.17 very much at a career crossroad.
Unless he improves his ranking to around 105 by the end of the season, the 24-year-old will miss direct entry to his home major.
But after also revealing in a recent TV interview he'd spent much of his career not giving 100 per cent in matches, Tomic is unlikely to gain many wildcards to big events and will need to play low-level Challenger events to boost his ranking.
"It's no sort of threat for me. I've been in this position before and I managed to turn it around quickly," he said, recalling how he battled back after falling to 124th in the world following double hip surgery in 2014.
"It's about being healthy the next six months to a year."
After also complaining of being burnt-out during his extraordinary post-match press conference at Wimbledon, Tomic said his motivation - if not full health and fitness - had returned following a six-week break from tennis.
Tomic, though, maintained he still felt "trapped" in tennis and would likely need to play on into his 30s - unless "I can win a major or two, maybe I can retire early".
"I mean, it's tough. Everyone has their own work, their own job and it's not like I can go and start real estate or something, restaurants. I've got no idea about that," he said.
"Yes, I can afford to do those things, but I've got no idea. My job's only to play tennis and it's all I know.
"I'm not going to finish a doctor's degree. I'm not the smartest person in the world."
Jordan Thompson is the only Australian man to progress so far, upsetting American 13th-seed Jack Sock in five sets.
Fellow Aussie Jason-Patrick Smith lost in four to Italian Thomas Fabbiano, while Thanasi Kokkinakis blew a two-set lead before going down 6-7 3-6 6-1 7-6 6-3 to Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic.
There was better news in the women's draw for Australia, with Ashleigh Barty, Arina Rodionova and Ajla Tomljanovic progressing to the second round.
Barty defeated 21st seed Ana Konjuh 4-6 6-0 6-1, while Tomljanovic beat Swede Johanna Larsson 7-5 6-4.
Rodionova had a 7-5 7-5 win over Dutch player Richel Hogenkamp, a result that will put the Australian in the top 120 of the rankings.
"This win really helps me mentally to understand that I belong where I want to reach, top 100, because I've had quite a few wins this year against top-100 girls," she said.
"I'm just gaining confidence match by match."
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