Lleyton Hewitt alleged he and his family have received “blackmail threats and physical [threats]” from Bernard Tomic in the latest episode of a seriously ugly spat that is threatening to derail the 2019 Australian Open.
The pair have traded barbs throughout the first week of the Melbourne Park grand slam and Tomic even threatened to “knock him out” in the press.
Hewitt expanded on those threats in a late-night press conference on Thursday.
“I haven’t spoken to him for more than a year due to the abuse me and my family have received from Bernie,” he said.
Asked about the abuse, Hewitt said: “Blackmail threats – and physical” and added they were also aimed at his “close-knit family”.
“It started because of blackmails to do with wildcards,” he said.
“I think the threats that I’ve received for 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 that speaks like that.”
Hewitt claimed that the situation was made even more frustrating by the fact he put in so much time towards helping Tomic.
“For me, the biggest frustration is I feel like I really went out of my way to help Bernie, especially when I first came into the role,” he said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with him one-on-one at a lot of tournaments, tried to get a coaching structure and physical team around him to give him the best opportunity and at the end of the day, he still kept making the wrong mistakes.
“For me, it was probably the abuse that I copped from him that, you know, in 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.”
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 17, 2019
Hewitt also spoke about Nick Kyrgios, who used social media to criticise Roger Rasheed on Wednesday evening.
“We feel like we have a responsibility to set a cultural standard and right now Nick’s not meeting those either,” he added.
“All we ask for is [for players] to commit to the sport. Go out there and give 100 per cent every time you step on the court.”
The ongoing spat between Hewitt and Tomic is taking attention away from Alex de Minaur, Alex Bolt, Alexei Popyrin, Ashleigh Barty and Kimberly Birrell, Australians who have all reached the third round of the Open.
Our wrap-up of the weird and wonderful at the Open begins with a leaked letter from Stanislas Wawrinka that set tongues wagging at Melbourne Park.
Chris Kermode’s role as ATP Tour President and CEO is the subject of much discussion for those inside the tennis world but the issue was brought into the mainstream after English newspaper The Telegraph reported on a letter sent from Wawrinka.
The Swiss player sent a letter to Vasek Pospisil – who is reportedly against Kermode staying on in the job – and it found its way into the press’ hands.
Included in Wawrinka’s letter was a message in all capitals which read: “YOU NEED TO LOOK AT THE CURRENT DIRECTION LAST 5 YEARS AND ACCEPT IT IS GOOD AND MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.”
Hurts your eyes, hey?
Wawrinka reportedly said the letter was sparked by “crazy things” he was reading online and added that he “COMPLETELY disagree” with the idea of removing Kermode.
Watch this space.
The latest match … ever
Daria Gavrilova’s Australian Open match against Elise Mertens made history last year, starting at 11.59pm (AEDT).
But Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza beat that, starting their clash at 12.30am (AEDT) on Friday morning.
Could it have been moved to another court in the best interests of the players?
A slice of history
all the first 8 seeds in the women's draw reached the 3rd round
it's the first time since Wimbledon 2009. In that event:
1. Safina (SF)
2. S. Williams (W)
3. V. Williams (F)
4. Dementieva (SF)
5. Kuznetsova (R3)
6. Jankovic (R3)
7. Zvonareva (R3)
8. Azarenka (QF)
— Diego Barbiani (@Diego_Barbiani) January 17, 2019
McEnroe prays for … Kyrgios
American tennis great John McEnroe has spoken about the concern he has for Nick Kyrgios’s tennis future and that he is ‘praying’ the 23-year-old lives up to his potential.
Kyrgios’s talent is unquestioned and McEnroe is a big fan of the Canberra product, having worked with him at the Rod Laver Cup on several occasions.
“I’m hopeful. I’m praying [for Nick],” McEnroe told the Nine Network.
“Because I’m a Nick Kyrgios fan. I like him a lot. He is a great kid. He is great team player. I’ve had him at the Rod Laver Cup a couple of years … and he lifted everyone up.
“So hopefully he can do that on his own. It’s questionable and I’m worried. I’m pulling for him.”
McEnroe added that Kyrgios is “not old enough yet where you can write him off”.