Bernard Tomic's snub for a wildcard into Australian Open qualifying makes a lot of sense considering his falling out with Lleyton Hewitt in recent years. Tomic was overlooked when Tennis Australia announced its wildcards for the qualifying tournament this week, ending a 15-year streak in which Tomic had featured in the Australian Open in some shape or form.
Whether it be in qualifying or the main draw, Tomic had participated in every Australian Open going back to 2008. However the one-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist won't be at Melbourne Park this year after missing out on a wildcard for qualifying.
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The 30-year-old has tumbled down the rankings in recent years and is currently World No.462. He was all the way down at No.825 in August before winning three Futures events at the end of 2022.
Despite being Australia's 22nd ranked male player, he was overlooked for a number of younger, emerging players. Six of the spots went to players ranked lower than Tomic - Aussies James McCabe, Philip Sekulic, Derek Pham, Jeremy Jin, Edward Winter, and American Bruno Kuzuhara (who won the Australia Open junior boys title in 2022). Dane Sweeny, Tristan Schoolkate and Adam Walton are all ranked higher than Tomic.
But working against Tomic is the fact that Hewitt - Australia's Davis Cup captain - is one of the figures at Tennis Australia who decides the wildcards. Tomic and Hewitt have had a very public falling out in recent years, with Hewitt making extraordinary claims that Tomic threatened his family.
“Both (physical and verbal) - blackmail and physical,” Hewitt said at the Australian Open in 2019. “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.”
Tomic denied the claims, saying: “I have never threatened his family. Nice, Lleyton. To think how low of a person you actually and (it’s) why the Australian public never liked you. I got nothing to do with your family and I don’t care what’s wrong with you, you liar.”
Tomic also said of Hewitt: “No one likes him any more. We have a lot of issues that not a lot of players are happy about. We all know who those players are. Myself, (Thanasi) Kokkinakis, (Nick) Kyrgios.”
Australian Open boss explains Bernard Tomic snub
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley moved to explain Tomic's snub. “Our team that looks at the decision has a team of people that looks at the decision of wildcards,” Tiley said.
“(They look at) the player coming in, the strength of their play, what events they’ve been playing, how much they’ve been playing, are they the younger part of our future generation. There’s many factors that go into it. One thing that’s great is we’ve got a new problem – we’ve got a lot more Australian players to choose from, and that’s a great problem to have."
Reacting to his snub, Tomic said on Saturday: "I'm not expecting any favours. I’m going to prove my point and earn my way.
“I understand Tennis Australia has made their decision. It’s good to see the young tennis players getting an opportunity. I’m at a place in my life where I don’t complain anymore. I’m focused and I’ve been training hard. I’ll let my tennis do the talking. Last quarter of 2022, I won three tournaments and made four finals.
“This year is my year, if no one is going to help support me, I’ll get back to top 100 on my own. My headspace is very different. I’m in a positive environment, good people around me, I’m in a healthy, happy relationship. Now all there is to do, is get back to where I belong.”
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