‘That is what we’ve come to expect from Bernie’: Lleyton Hewitt accuses Bernard Tomic of ‘blackmail’ and ‘physical threats’ as feud between Australian duo continues
- Lleyton Hewitt hit back on Thursday at criticism from Bernard Tomic
- Australian Davis Cup captain accused Tomic of attempted blackmail
- Tomic claimed that Hewitt favoured certain players over others in selection
Australian tennis descended into civil war on Thursday after former Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt alleged that he had suffered threats and blackmail from outcast star Bernard Tomic.
Davis Cup captain Hewitt launched a ferocious response to accusations from his controversial compatriot that he exercises a regime based on favouritism, particularly when it comes to handing out wildcards.
Tomic also asserted that the ex-world No 1 is unpopular among current players, and has told Australian media that there would be consequences if Hewitt came ‘within one metre of me.’ Never one to take things lying down, the 37 year-old captain fired back after being knocked out of the doubles first round.
Lleyton Hewitt has hit back at Bernard Tomimc in their escalating war of words
Tomic has accused the Australian Davis Cup captain of favouring certain players over others
‘We’re trying to set cultural standards for the Davis Cup and representing Australia. He hasn’t really been close to those in the last couple of years,’ he said.
‘For me it was probably the abuse that I copped from him that made me draw a line in the sand. I haven’t spoken to him since. He won’t play Davis Cup again while I have anything to do with it.
‘I think the threats that I’ve received – to me and my family – that I’ve had for a year and a half now, I don’t think anyone would reach out to a person who speaks like that.
‘It started with blackmails to do with wildcards but this was over a year ago. I don’t know why Bernie’s Bernie. It’s probably his upbringing. That has a big part to do with it.’
Hewitt said that the threats were physical and that they extended to his wife Bec, former actress in Home And Away. He maintained that he was not intimidated.
The spat has overshadowed some strong home performances at the antipodean Grand Slam, and Hewitt added that he regretted this was the case because of what ‘one clown’ had said.
Hewitt has encountered problems with Nick Kyrgios and Tomic during his time in the role
Tomic made the accusations after his first-round exit at the hands of Marin Cilic this week
The latest explosion is the most public expression of problems between the Davis Cup captain and a crop of unusually talented but wayward players.
Tomic (who reached Wimbledon’s quarter-finals aged just 18), Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis are among the most naturally gifted younger players on the whole world circuit.
All of them, however, have had their attitudes questioned to a greater or lesser extent. The under-performance of Tomic and Kyrgios is well-documented, while Kokkinakis was controversially denied a wildcard to this tournament.
Kyrgios criticised Hewitt (among others) on social media this week, alleging that there was preferential treatment given to fast-rising teenage star Alex de Minaur.
‘Nick and I have had a great relationship but standards have to be set and the role that I’m in now, you have to have standards.’
Hewitt denied Tomic’s claim he benefited financially from players given wild cards
He referred to his social media, saying: ‘That’s one of the standards that we can’t put up with.
‘In the Davis Cup team we feel like we have a responsibility to set a cultural standard and right now Nick’s not meeting those either. The things that we feel like we have to push – and all we ask for – is to commit to the sport, to go out there and give 100 per cent every time you step on the court.
‘I think Nick with what he said at Brisbane and not really wanting to be there at the tournament, I think that hurts one of our Australian events. I think he’s got some work to do to get up to those standards.’