SYDNEY-Troubled tennis star Bernard Tomic was slammed by Australia's media as "the king of the excuse" Monday with "a heart the size of a peanut" after his latest on-court antics at the Rome Masters.

Tomic, who made headlines last week when he turned his racquet the wrong way to face a match point in the Madrid Masters first round against Fabio Fognini, lasted just eight minutes in his opening clash in Rome on Sunday.

The much-criticised Aussie world number 22 retired after a medical timeout when he was leading French opponent Benoit Paire 2-1, saying he had been "feeling bad all night".

The 23-year-old has a catalogue of lax commitment in matches, which has earned him the tag of "Tomic the Tank Engine," and he was savaged in the Australian press. "Desire, passion, fight and a strong work ethic -- all qualities you'd like to see in your emerging and established tennis stars," the Herald Sun said in an opinion piece. "Instead, we're treated to tantrums, arrogance, moods and at times utterly shocking attempts at justifying continual brattish behaviour. Yep, we're looking at you Bernard Tomic," it added in a story headlined "King of the excuse" which scornfully listed his top 10 career excuses in an "ever-expanding rap sheet".

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons said Tomic was embarrassing his country. "You're a man already with a reputation for having a heart the size of a peanut, one who has been given extraordinary talent, but no gumption to go with it, no ability to guts it out," he said. "What is in it for you to carry on as you do? What is in your head? ... It embarrasses your country."

Tomic brazenly told his post-match news conference in Madrid: "I don't care about that match point. Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10 million?" The Herald said Tomic had made Aus$2,570 ($1,900) a minute in Rome based on his prize money as a first-round loser,.

Last weekend Tomic and fiery compatriot Nick Kyrgios were warned that their on-court behaviour could threaten their places in the Australian team for the Rio Olympics in August. Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller described Tomic's behaviour in Madrid as "appalling".

Tomic has won just one match on clay this season in a worrying indication of his poor form just two weeks out from the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the season.