Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Bernard Tomic as the fallout continues from Australia’s fractious first-round exit from the Davis Cup.
First-year captain Lleyton Hewitt faces a far bigger battle than trying to keep Australia in the World Group as he bids to quell an escalating war of words between his top two players.
Australia will face a play-off later this year to stay in the top league after falling 3-1 to a John Isner-led United States in Melbourne.
The big-serving world No.11 fired 49 aces – including the third fastest recorded serve in history – to down Tomic 6-4 6-4 5-7 7-6 (7-4).
It gave his team an unbeatable lead on the Kooyong grass before all hell broke loose in the Australian ranks on Sunday night.
Tomic, who said he was troubled by an ongoing wrist problem that would have forced him out of any event other than Davis Cup, accused Kyrgios of “faking” illness to skip the first-round tie in Melbourne.
“Two times. Two times he’s faked it,” Channel Seven cameras caught Tomic muttering to Hewitt during his loss to Isner.
“Two times Nick has faked it. Twice. While I’m here, Nick’s sitting down in Canberra. Bullsh*t he’s sick.”
Tomic didn’t back away from his comments at the post-match press conference, questioning how Kyrgios could be fit to play in this week’s ATP tournament in Indian Wells, California.
The Australian No.1 said a similar situation happened last February when Kyrgios withdrew from the Davis Cup against the Czech Republic.
“He didn’t come to Czech and had stress fractures and somehow played Indian Wells and felt good,” Tomic said.
“He said he’s `still sick but I’m going to be better tomorrow’ – so it’s just weird for me.
“If he plays Indian Wells, then he’s definitely lost a little bit of my respect.”
Tomic said he spoke to Kyrgios after the match and the pair still had a good relationship.
“We’re pretty open with each other and that’s a good thing,” he said.
“He’s a good guy; he’s got his own personality and I have mine.”
In response Kyrgios later taunted Tomic on Twitter, referencing the Queenslander’s 6-0 6-1 loss to Jarkko Nieminen in Miami two years ago.
“Let’s not forget who holds the quickest loss on the ATP Tour lol,” Kyrgios posted.
The tweet was later removed before Kyrgios followed up with: “Heat of the moment, not gonna take it personally. Indian wells a week away, plenty of time”.
But he then tweeted a more cutting: “Just don’t expect me to have your back anytime soon”.
Earlier, Hewitt sat stony-faced while Tomic questioned the legitimacy of Kyrgios’ commitment to Davis Cup.
While Tomic boasts a 16-4 win-loss record, Kyrgios hasn’t won a rubber for Australia over the past two years.
After missing last year’s first-round win over the Czech Republic, he was dropped for the reverse singles against Kazakhstan after losing to lowly-ranked Aleksandr Nedovyesov on day one in Darwin.
Kyrgios was then omitted from the semi-final against Great Britain in Glasgow following a turbulent month in the US punctuated by his unsavoury sledging of French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
Hewitt said he didn’t doubt that Kyrgios was ill and he was ruled out by team’s medical staff.
“Nick came down here and gave everything he had to try to be available and there’s absolutely no doubt he was sick,” Hewitt said.
He said Tomic’s comments came in the heat of the moment and in frustration about his own injury.
Hewitt also showed his support for Tomic.
“Bernie’s come here and he wasn’t 100 per cent and he hasn’t been for the last few weeks and he came out and gave absolutely 100 per cent in his matches here and did exactly what I asked him to do ever since he stepped off the plane,” Hewitt said.