MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) – Firebrand Bernard Tomic has launched an extraordinary attack on fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt, saying “no one likes him any more” while claiming he has ruined the national tennis system.
The combustible 26-year-old unloaded on the Australian Davis Cup captain and two-time Grand Slam champion after being bundled out of Melbourne Park at the first hurdle late Monday.
He alleged there were deep divisions in the Australian men’s game.
“It’s all Lleyton. I’m going to say it honestly — no one likes him anymore,” said Tomic, who had a car-crash 2018 season and faced a backlash after boasting that “I just count my millions”.
“He’s just doing the wrong thing. He’s playing Davis Cup — I thought he was retired. You know what I mean?
“He used to hate Tennis Australia. It’s weird. And now he loves them. What’s happened here?
“But I guess he’s using them for other things and resources and … yep. And it’s for his pay cheque, yep.”
Tomic, who has long had a fractious relationship with Hewitt and Tennis Australia, claimed that he and countrymen Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios “don’t want to play (Davis Cup) any more because he’s ruined the system”.
“Go away,” he said of Hewitt. “Like, literally. If you’ve retired, why are you still in tennis?”
Hewitt, 37, has received a wildcard into the Australian Open doubles and will partner John-Patrick Smith, while reports last month said he was contemplating playing doubles at the Davis Cup in February against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tomic, who rose to a career-high 17 at his peak, has not played Davis Cup since 2016 and alleged Hewitt “doesn’t put the players first”.
“He doesn’t put Nick first, he doesn’t put Kokkinakis first. He only thinks of himself,” he blasted.
Hewitt is yet to respond, but his former coach Roger Rasheed told Sky Sports radio Tomic’s comments were “not warranted”.
“There are always going to be players that actually love the coach. There is going to be a few players, if they’re not getting a game and they think they should be getting a game, they’ll actually have different feelings for the coach,” he said.
“I think it’s just one of those natural playouts as far as teams and coaches go.”
Tomic is no stranger to controversy after a series of run-ins with the authorities down the years.
At Wimbledon in 2017, he was fined for claiming he was bored by tennis and had faked an injury. His racquet sponsor dropped him as a result.
Last year he even appeared on Australian reality TV show “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here”.
© Agence France-Presse