The world’s media has savaged Australian tennis over Lleyton Hewitt’s public feud with his players.
The sorry saga took a disturbing twist on Thursday night when Hewitt sensationally claimed Tomic physically threatened him and his family.
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Speaking after his Australian Open doubles exit, Hewitt says he’s cut all contact with Tomic following the alleged abuse over the past 18 months.
Hewitt says he tried to help Tomic – who this week criticised his Davis Cup and Open wildcard player selection policy – but believes the 26-year-old former Australian No.1 is now a lost cause.
Hewitt said he’d received multiple threats from Tomic.
“Both (physical and verbal) – blackmail and physical,” Hewitt said on Thursday night.
“The threats that I’ve received for me and my family that I’ve had had for a year and half now, I don’t think anyone would reach out to a person who speaks like that.
“For me, it was the abuse I copped from him at the end. I drew a line in the sand and I haven’t spoken to him since.
“He won’t play Davis Cup while I have anything to do with it.”
Hewitt also put Kyrgios on notice that his off-court behaviour needs to change before he’ll be considered for Davis Cup.
But Tomic previously said Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis don’t even want to play for Hewitt, claims Kyrgios and Kokkinakis fell short of denying.
‘This country is a soap opera’
The ugly war of words has made international news, due to the fact it’s playing out at the first grand slam event of the year.
A number of prominent international journos have been left rather amused by the drama.
After his first round loss to Milos Raonic, a British journalist laughed as he asked Kyrgios whether he ever got tired of having to ask questions about rifts between his countrymen.
In response to Hewitt’s latest claims, New York Times writer Ben Rothenbrg tweeted: “This country really is a tennis soap opera.”
The Lleyton Hewitt press conference was WILD, y'all. Blackmail, threats, disowning. This country really is a tennis soap opera. #AusOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 17, 2019
South American scribe Jose Morgado also poked fun at Hewitt.
Lleyton always loved a good press conference. https://t.co/eAivp01g9u
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 17, 2019
The feud has featured on multiple publications in the United States and UK.
Simon Briggs of the UK Telegraph wrote: “The animosity between these two men has dominated the front and back pages here all week.”
Deadspin, admittedly a light-heated and often satirical site, said: “The tennis world down under has been roiled by beef.”
“Tomic is hardly the most sympathetic witness, but it is odd for a Davis Cup captain to be hanging onto the dregs of his playing career instead of prioritising his young players,” Giri Nathan wrote.
While Hazel Sheffield of The Independent reckons it’s all come about because we’re not winning.
“The controversy comes amid Australia’s continuing frustration at not producing champions here any more,” she wrote.
“The last home player to win the men’s singles at this tournament was Mark Edmondson in 1976 and the last home-grown women’s champion was Chris O’Neil in 1978.”
Andre Agassi has even weighed in
Andre Agassi suspects there will only ever be one winner in Australia’s Davis Cup war.
Agassi, one of tennis’s great rebels before ending his career as a statesman and icon, admitted he regretted his clashes with some of his Davis Cup captains.
“I don’t know about the politics and what-not that go on and as Davis Cup captain what his responsibilities are,” the American told AAP during his trip to Melbourne as a global ambassador for Lavazza.
“I can only imagine. I only saw it as a player.
“I probably took a lot for granted and I said regretful things in my own life about captains when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to go.
“Lleyton, he’s been nothing but a competitor for this sport. I’ve always respected him.
“He’s a fighter and I’m sure he’s going to fight on behalf of making his team as good as possible.
“I’m sure he’s a pretty smart dude as well when it comes to that.
“It’s not easy if you don’t get the support from certain players, but Lleyton has won more battles than that.”