By Simon Evans
LONDON (Reuters) - Head, the tennis racket manufacturer, has dropped its sponsorship of Australian player Bernard Tomic after his comments that he had been "bored" during his first-round exit from Wimbledon.
"We were extremely disappointed with the statements made at Wimbledon by one of our sponsored athletes, Bernard Tomic. His opinions in no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism and respect for the game," the company said in a statement.
"Therefore, we have decided to discontinue our collaboration with Bernard Tomic."
Tomic spoke about his lack of motivation following his listless 6-3 6-4 6-3 defeat by Germany's Mischa Zverev on Tuesday.
"It's a roller-coaster and I just can't seem to find the commitment to work hard, to enjoy, and to lift trophies," he told reporters. "The last two years, nothing motivates.
"It was definitely a mental issue out there. Wasn't mentally and physically there to perform. I don't know why, but, you know, I felt a little bit bored out there to be completely honest with you," the 24-year-old told reporters.
The Australian also conceded that he had called for medical assistance, not because of injury, but in order to disrupt the momentum of the game.
Tomic was subsequently fined 11,600 pounds ($15,010.40) for "unsportsmanlike conduct."
Head sponsors a number of top players in both the men's and women's game including Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova.
The company received criticism for standing by the Russian Sharapova when she was banned after testing positive for use of the substance meldonium.
Tomic's comments were criticised by many pundits who suggested he was cheating fans by his attitude.
Women's nine-time Wimbledon winner Martina Navratilova suggested that Tomic's comments were ungracious and suggested he "stay at home".
"It's disrespectful to the sport and disrespectful to the history of the sport. If you can't get motivated at Wimbledon it's time to find another job," Navratilova said.
But former world number one Mats Wilander defended Tomic, saying many other players silently had the same problems.
"I guarantee you every single player here at Wimbledon feels or has felt like Tomic is saying he feels," the Swede told Reuters.
"I really appreciate that he was honest about it."
Others have suggested Tomic's words may reflect wider issues and offered support.
Tennis Gold Coast president Mike Ford, who has known Tomic since he was a child, called for the player to be left alone.
"He's obviously going through a very dark period. He needs time and he needs space," he told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
"Not many realise the work he had to do. He trained at Queens Park in Southport, was there every day with his dad, 11, 12, 13 years old and grinded himself into the court, hour after hour... I don't forget those sort of things."
($1 = 0.7728 pounds)
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Neil Robinson)