Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic “set a pretty low benchmark” for Australian tennis but are starting to head in the right direction, according to Pat Rafter.
The young duo, who sit at 18th and 19th in the world rankings, are never far away from the headlines, and often for the wrong reasons.
Tomic has found himself in hot water again at Wimbledon after calling himself a “retard” in his press conference after his tournament opener.
Disability campaigners have called for the 23-year-old to apologise.
Neither man will represent Australia at the Rio Olympics after both pulled out following criticism from chef de mission Kitty Chiller, who indicated they might not be selected because of past behaviour.
Rafter worked with both during his role as Australia’s Davis Cup captain between 2011 and 2015 and is now Tennis Australia’s performance director.
“They set a pretty low benchmark,” Rafter told the Press Association in an interview also promoting his Champions Tennis appearance at the Royal Albert Hall later this year.
“I would say they’re heading in the right direction but there’s only one way to go for those guys.
“Lleyton (Hewitt) is there now (as Davis Cup captain). He’s got to run that part of it. He’s invested in that pretty heavily and it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.
“But he’s trying very hard and, at this stage, from what I’ve seen, it’s started to have an influence.”
Rafter has had his clashes with Tomic in particular, suspending him from Davis Cup. The same fate befell him last summer after he used a post-match press conference at Wimbledon to lay into Rafter and other TA officials.
Asked how relations were with the governing body now, Rafter said: “Certain sections pretty good, other sections not so good.”
Chiller was criticised for implying Kyrgios and Tomic were as bad as each other and TA leapt to the defence of Kyrgios, whose on-court behaviour has improved since his infamous sledge of Stan Wawrinka last year.
He is still prone to outbursts and arguments with umpires but he has had consistently good results and has climbed from 30th in the rankings in January to a current career-high.
“They’re Australian, around the same age, around the same ranking, so I guess it’s a natural thing to lump them in together,” said Rafter, who will be playing Is it fair? No it’s not really fair but it’s the way it is. It always comes up in conversation. I know the difference between them and it’s a very clear difference. And even Thanasi (Kokkinakis) will get roped into it and he’s very, very different.”