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How an argument over his sister sparked Bernard Tomic’s bitter battle with tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt - leading to their almighty row at the Australian Open

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 16/01/2019 Aidan Wondracz

An argument over Bernard Tomic's sister years ago may have brought about his increasingly bitter feud with Lleyton Hewitt.

Bernard Tomic holding a sign: Tomic (pictured) took to the floor on Monday night to challenge Hewitt's motivation as the Davis Cup captain and went so far as to say there were players in the tennis community who did not support his appointment  © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Tomic (pictured) took to the floor on Monday night to challenge Hewitt's motivation as the Davis Cup captain and went so far as to say there were players in the tennis community who did not support his appointment  The pair seemed to be on good terms as little as three years ago when Hewitt made his last outing at Wimbledon, news.com.au reported.

'He’s a true mentor, not just to me, but to a lot of people around the world. He’s changed me,' Tomic said of the outgoing tennis star. 

Their friendly relationship appears to have fallen by the wayside following funding drama for Tomic's younger sister and fringe tennis player Sara.

a woman posing for the camera: An argument over Bernard Tomic's sister (pictured, Sara Tomic) years ago may have brought about the increasingly bitter feud between the tennis bad boy and Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited An argument over Bernard Tomic's sister (pictured, Sara Tomic) years ago may have brought about the increasingly bitter feud between the tennis bad boy and Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt

The tennis bad boy and his family fell out with Tennis Australia and Tomic rejected any attempts from Hewitt to save the sinking relationship.

He made himself unavailable for Davis Cup selection and broke off with the management company that also managed Hewitt's affairs.

To add to his further downward spiral, Tomic failed to qualify for the Australian Open last year and decided to use the time to appear in Channel 10's 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here'.

a woman sitting on a bench posing for the camera: Hewitt and Tomic's friendly relationship appears to have fallen by the wayside following funding drama for Tomic's younger sister and fringe tennis player Sara (pictured) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Hewitt and Tomic's friendly relationship appears to have fallen by the wayside following funding drama for Tomic's younger sister and fringe tennis player Sara (pictured) Hewitt went on to say Tomic was 'digging a hole for himself that he may not be able to get out of'. 

Neither did it help Tomic's cause when it was decided the 26-year-old would not play in the Davis Cup or Australian Olympics team from that point on.

Without funding or wildcard boosts as an incentive from Tennis Australia, Tomic is now free to speak his mind.

And that's proven dangerous so far, after a fiery and surprise outburst from Tomic during a conference on Monday night.

The 26-year-old took to the floor to challenge Hewitt's motivation as the Davis Cup captain and went so far as to say there were players in the tennis community who did not support his appointment.

'It's all Lleyton. I'm going to say it honestly - no one likes him anymore,' Tomic said.

Hewitt spoke to the Nine Network the next day to address Tomic's claims and dismissed his comments as typical of the tennis star's bad boy behaviour.

'It is Bernie being Bernie and losing and going on and complaining about a few things,' he said.

'The disappointing thing that the Aussies men and women had a great day and it was overshadowed by Bernard Tomic. He threw a couple under the bus.' 

Tomic later revealed he had threatened Hewitt via text and email, when The Herald Sun pressed him on the issue.

'Two years ago, I said ‘If he ever tries to talk to me, I’ll knock him out’,' he said. 

In the ongoing battle of words, Tomic has attacked Hewitt and said players don't even like him anymore. 

'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.' 

Since rising to the captaincy in 2016, Hewitt has had to juggle the development of younger players and support already established players like Kyrgios, Tomic and Kokkinakis.

And it seems to be straining the captain.

A report released last week claimed Kokkinakis did not take it well when Hewitt chose lower-ranked John Millman for a singles rubber against Belgium in Brussels in 2017.  

Another unfavourable decision in Australia's most recent Davis Cup tie against Austria in September and Tomic has had plenty of ammunition to unload on the captain. 

'He’s in Davis Cup and he’s doing the wrong thing and we don’t want to play anymore. I hope he can get moved and we can go back to having a good captain,' he said.

Tomic went as far to claim Hewitt has been playing favouritism and selecting players linked to his own management company.

'It’s a conflict of interest and I think that’s terrible. Am I right or am I wrong?' Tomic said.

'They’re all under his wing, under the management company. So it’s all a conflict of interest. The more they make here, the more he takes. You know what he’s doing and I think it’s wrong.'

Bernard Tomic et al. posing for the camera: Without funding or wildcard boosts as an incentive from Tennis Australia, Tomic (pictured, with Sara) is now free to speak his mind

Without funding or wildcard boosts as an incentive from Tennis Australia, Tomic (pictured, with Sara) is now free to speak his mind
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Despite widespread condemnation of the wild claim, Aussie tennis great Pat Cash called for an independent investigation into the accusation. 

Even so, the name-dropped players thought to be involved like Bolt, Popyrin, Thompson and Polmans, have not been linked to Hewitt's W Sports and Media management company. 

Needless to say, Tomic will be keeping a close eye on Hewitt as the Davis Cup captain makes his squad selection next week.  

Pictures: Famous tennis players: Then and now

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