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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lleyton Hewitt

The toxic feud between Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic has exploded with ugly charges of personal threats and blackmail over wild cards.

Photo credit: Tennis Australia Facebook

The toxic feud between Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic has exploded with ugly charges of threats and blackmail.

Australian Davis Cup captain Hewitt dropped a major bombshell claiming Tomic has threatened his family and tried to blackmail him.

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The former world No. 1 fired back after Tomic totally trashed Hewitt claiming the captain has "ruined" the team, alienated his players and cashed in on conflict of interest by rewarding players his management firm represents.

Throwing caustic fuel on the fire, Tomic later threatened to "knock out" his former captain if Hewitt dared "come within one meter" of his face.

Blasting Tomic as "a clown" Hewitt did not hold back in a verbal evisceration during a stunningly candid Australian Open press conference that exposed ongoing vitriol.

The two-time Grand Slam champion alleges Tomic has threatened him and his family for the past "year and a half" and tried to blackmail him over wild cards.

The Adelaide native said Tomic crossed the line with those threats and vowed Tomic will not play Davis Cup again "if I have anything to do with it."

Hewitt, who once mentored Tomic, said the relationship ended in 2017 and revealed the pair are not on speaking terms, which is not exactly a surprise given their bitter public feud.

“For me it was probably the abuse that I copped,” Hewitt said of his final straw with Tomic. “I had to draw a line in the sand and that will continue. He won’t play Davis Cup. I haven’t spoken to him since. “The threats that I have received for me and my family, I’ve had for a year and a half now.”

In a blunt verbal assault following his straight-sets loss to Marin Cilic in the Australian Open first round, Tomic took the nuclear option to his former captain saying "no one likes" Hewitt.  Tomic, who posted a 17-4 record representing the green-and-gold charges he once threatened to "knock out" the man who holds Australian records for most Davis Cup wins and ties played.

"Two years ago, I said ‘If he ever tries to talk to me, I’ll knock him out’,” Tomic said in comments published by News Corp.

In a stinging response, Hewitt said Tomic tried to blackmail him over wild cards and attributed Tomic's troubles to the way he was raised by his domineering dad John Tomic, who was arrested for head-butting and breaking the nose of Bernard Tomic's hitting partner back in 2013.

"I don’t know what’s happened or why Bernie is Bernie. I have no idea," Hewitt said. "It’s probably his upbringing. That would have a big part to do with it. For me, the biggest frustration is that I feel like I really went out of my way to help Bernie. Especially when I first came into the role.

“At the end of the day he just kept making the wrong mistakes.”

Tomic charges neither Nick Kyrgios nor Thanasi Kokkinakis will play Davis Cup for Hewitt either.

"It’s all Lleyton. I’m going to say it honestly. No one likes him any more,” Tomic said. “He’s doing the wrong thing. He’s playing Davis Cup. I thought he’d retired. He’s playing all these matches and stuff like that.

“Absolutely, Kokkinakis, Kyrgios, we don’t want to play anymore because he’s ruined it. He’s ruined the system. Like, go away. I thought he’d retired, like, why are you still in tennis? Why do you still play all these doubles tournaments?”

The 37-year-old Hewitt and compatriot John-Patrick Smith lost their Australian Open first-round doubles match on Court 7. 

We likely haven't heard the last in the Hewitt-Tomic imbroglio.

Australia hosts Bosnia-Herzegovina in Hewitt's hometown of Adelaide in the February 1-2nd Davis Cup opening round.


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