Tennis Australia is standing behind Lleyton Hewitt as Davis Cup captain despite a blistering attack from outsider Bernard Tomic.
Watch Bernard tomic’s sensational attack on Australia’s Davis Cup captain, warning the best local players don’t want to play for Australia while Lleyton Hewitt was there. 👀#AusOpen pic.twitter.com/H8jA79zyvj
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) January 14, 2019
Tomic, the world No.88, said Hewitt’s leadership of the Australian team had split the country’s players, suggesting top talents Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis would boycott the new-look Davis Cup while the two-time major winner remained at the helm.
“I dare him to come one metre from me if he is a man” 😡😡😡
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) January 15, 2019
Wally Masur, TA’s performance director and Hewitt’s immediate successor as Davis Cup captain, said the organisation was standing by the 37-year-old.
“Lleyton’s not afraid of hard work. You saw that in his playing career and he’s doing it as Davis Cup captain. He has the support of Tennis Australia,” Masur told AAP.
“He’s a tremendous worker and he responds to people that are prepared to meet him half way.”
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) January 15, 2019
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley opted against entering the firestorm on Monday, given his duties as Australian Open tournament director, leaving Masur to speak for the organisation.
Tomic led Australia to the 2015 semi-finals under Masur and suggested he should have remained captain, instead of Hewitt taking over.
But Masur said from Tiley down TA was shattered to learn of Tomic’s barbs, especially given the rampant success of locals on day one of the tournament.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 15, 2019
Eight Australians won their first-round matches in one of the most successful days for Australians in decades.
“I was watching a lot of tennis yesterday and there were some good stories so it was disappointing to wake up and read that,” a crestfallen Masur said.
Masur said TA was not responsible for Tomic’s outburst.
“A lot of people are under the apprehension that players are contracted to Tennis Australia and we control players and that’s just not the case,” he said.
“When you get out on the tour, you get the ranking and nobody or no federation or individuals can stop you and that’s the beauty of the sport.
“We support them on their journey and at some point they become self funding and they run their own race. That’s where we’re at (with Bernie).”
One of Tomic’s claims was that TA’s decision not to award Kokkinakis a wildcard into the Australian Open had turned the 22-year-old away from Hewitt’s leadership.
Kokkinakis, who retired hurt during the second set against Taro Daniel on Tuesday night, missed out to teenager Alexei Popyrin, first-round loser Marc Polmans and debut winner Alex Bolt.
“There’s quite a process to picking wildcards. You look at form, fitness … rankings, results. You look at age and attitude,” he said.
“They’re very individual decisions based on the nominations from Lleyton.
“Thanasi didn’t get one and I’m sure he was disappointed but he sucked it up, didn’t say a word, went out there and smashed it and won his qualifying. Credit to him for that.”