BERNARD Tomic's nightmare season keeps getting worse and there's speculation his tumultuous career is over.
The 25-year-old Australian's poor performances this year have pushed his ATP Tour ranking out to No.145 from a career high of 17th in the world.
A lethargic effort against French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the Vienna Open took Tomic's hopes of a spot in the Australian Open out of his hands.
The Frenchman won the first-round match 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 after Tomic served underarm at 5-5 in the first set with the match in the balance.
It is expected to be Tomic's final match of the year, after he failed to earn the ATP Tour points needed to qualify for the main draw of next month's Paris Masters.
His rankings disaster means he will need a wildcard from Tennis Australia to play in January's Australian Open at Melbourne Park - or he will have to try to earn a spot in the main draw through qualifying.
What do you think of Bernard Tomic's antics?
This poll ended on 31 December 2017.
He's embarrasing! Get rid of him.
At least he is entertaining!
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Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt refused to confirm if he would push Tennis Australia to award Tomic a wildcard for the Open.
"At the end of the day, he's still got to work a lot harder," Hewitt said.
"He's got to put the hours in on the court, but off the court as well in the gym to go out there and hopefully be ready to play the Australian summer.
"The Australian Open, over five sets, you get some pretty bloody hot days there as well that he's got to be ready to play (in)."
He was occasionally brilliant but more often than not erratic, serving six double faults and just five aces.
Tomic dropped his opening service game of the match before playing some huge forehands and drop shots full of guile to break back at 4-5 when Herbert was serving for the opening set.
Tomic took an early mini-break in the tiebreak too before Herbert hit back to win 7-4.
Tomic took an early lead in the second set when he broke for 2-1 and appeared in control until he served for the set at 5-4 and Herbert broke back before reeling off the next two games to close out the win.
Top-seeded German Alexander Zverev eventually overcame Serbia's Viktor Troicki 6-3 4-6 6-4, joining fellow German Phillipp Kohlschreiber in the second round after he upset American fifth seed John Isner 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.
French veteran Gilles Simon beat Ernests Gulbis 6-3 6-3 and Richard Gasquet defeated Felicano Lopez 6-3 6-2.
- with AAP