Melbourne - Bernard Tomic on Wednesday insisted he's misunderstood by his fellow Australians but is determined to realise his potential after a backlash over his early injury retirement at the Australian Open.
The gifted but as yet unfulfilled 21-year-old drew boos and jeers when he retired with a groin injury when a set down to world number one Rafael Nadal in their first-round match on Tuesday.
His decision to quit rather than exacerbate a groin injury did not impress the capacity night crowd at Rod Laver Arena, and again raised questions about the desire of the world number 57.
But in a specially convened press conference, Tomic defended his decision to retire and said a scan showed he would have risked a more serious injury by continuing.
Asked whether he was misunderstood by the public, Tomic said: "Well yeah, I think everyone looks at you differently.
"Being good, being talented, and being young is something that I have. Obviously I have had these issues in those past, but you've got to focus. You got to learn how to handle it."
Tomic's image has been tarnished by brushes with the law and confessions that he gave less than full effort in matches, earning him the nickname, "Tomic the tank engine".
US tennis great John McEnroe accused him of giving up during his straight-sets loss to Andy Roddick at the 2012 US Open, and Tomic also admitted he gave only "85 percent" in his 6-4, 6-0 defeat to German Florian Mayer at the Shanghai Masters later that year.
His father John Tomic added further controversy when he received an eight-month suspended jail sentence last September for assaulting his son's hitting partner, Thomas Drouet. He is also banned from attending ATP tournaments.
"That's the thing of getting there very young. You get thrown into a lot of things. A lot of things come your way," Tomic said of his career ups and downs.
"I was lucky that I got there at such a young age doing so good, experiencing a lot. I'm still very young. I just turned 21.
"I will see where my ranking is at the end of the year. I know if I keep the right things going I can improve a lot."
Tomic said he was disappointed that his groin injury had intervened and cost him an opportunity on the big stage against Nadal.
"I was very confident. I knew I had the game to frustrate him and to get under him, but I just couldn't do it because I couldn't move and I was battling with pain," he said.
"Lucky I stopped in the end, because I would have done myself a lot worse playing with Rafa another few hours on court.
"It could have been another few months more, and then I would have dug myself a deeper hole."
Tomic's doctor said his adductor tear was a one to three week injury, but that if he had played on he could have been out for up to four months.
Tomic said as a result he was unlikely to play for Australia in the Davis Cup against France next month.
Wednesday's backlash follows a recent newspaper poll where 83.75 percent of respondents said Tomic would never be loved by the Australian public.