BY THE end of Bernard Tomic's vexed season, his unravelling had become a frequent talking point in the men's locker room. Roger Federer compared the Australian with his undisciplined younger self; rivals had become less threatened by Tomic's quirky, unconventional game. Fellow Queenslander Josh Eagle, the former tour player now coaching national No. 1 Marinko Matosevic, spoke to Federer at last month's Swiss Indoors in Basel, where the 17-time major winner reached his 110th final, while Tomic won just two games against veteran Mikhail Youzhny in what was his last match of a troubled year. ''Federer was suggesting that he could relate a little bit to the pressure that Tomic was facing as he is essentially one of the young guns marked for success,'' Eagle said. ''Fed was saying how when he was young he used to get frustrated and angry during matches and then end up playing badly. ''I was surprised at how aware the top guys were of Tomic and his progression. A year ago, most players were a little scared of playing him. He must be careful that he keeps performing, otherwise he loses the X-factor that he had worked hard to get. ''At the moment players are not afraid to play him and talk spreads quickly in the locker room about other players' strengths and weaknesses. They almost feed off this.'' Tomic's ranking has dropped 25 places from its peak of 27th, after a string of off-court controversies, as well as a rebuke for court damage after his first-round loss at Wimbledon, accusations of tanking against Andy Roddick at the US Open, and the admission he had made only an ''85 per cent effort'' at the Shanghai Masters. Calls are growing louder for the 20-year-old to replace his father, John, as coach, with Roger Rasheed suggesting he take an extended break to settle his personal issues, and John Newcombe calling for Tomic to get fitter, less predictable and more driven in order to compete with the ''trained killers'' plotting his downfall in the men's game. Having lamented an overloaded playing schedule - devised, incidentally, by his own team - Tomic called an early end to a season he started with a semi-final in Brisbane and fourth-round showing at Melbourne Park. He did not beat a player ranked above him after January, and is in danger of plunging from the top 100 with an early Australian Open exit. ''I think this year has been a big learning curve for Bernie and his team,'' said Eagle, one of three finalists for the elite coach's award at the Newcombe Medal on Monday night which was won by David Taylor. ''It was always going to be tough to back up what he achieved in 2011, especially the Wimbledon [quarter-final] result. Let's hope he can use this off-season to regroup and dissect where he can improve and what needs to be done to reach his potential. Nobody doubts his talent - this is off the charts, some shots he can hit are simply incredible. ''But at the top level of any sport it takes more than just talent to succeed. Bernie has to learn from the champions of our sport. If he can find a way to compete like the top-10 players do every time he steps onto a court, then he will have a very, very successful future. ''I guess we must remember that he is still young. He has proved before that he embraces the spotlight and a huge centre-court match. Let's not write Bernard Tomic off. He will bounce back. But the time has come for Bernie to take control of his own career - and silence the murmurs in the locker room.'' Eagle said Tomic's priority should be to end the revolving door of support staff and surround himself with a stable team. ''There'll be two weeks with a physio and a hitting partner, then that will change. I would just like to see him get back to the basics: get a good group of people around him and be prepared to listen to them. ''I think that until he does that it's just going to be hard, because the whole dynamic that he has around him this year just hasn't worked. Some of his efforts this year have just been dreadful.'' And a good coach for Tomic? ''Oh, who knows? It's not working, but we saw it with Mark Philippoussis and his dad and it's hard to break that,'' Eagle said. ''Bernard is an unusual character. He marches to the beat of his own drum. I wouldn't want to coach him.''