It could be the biggest feud in Australian sport and Pat Rafter has hit back as John Tomic holds Tennis Australia to ransom just days out from Wimbledon.
Candidly agreeing with Tomic that he plays favourites when it comes to funding, Australia’s new iron-fisted player performance director says TA has invested “ridiculous amounts” of money in Bernard Tomic – but there’ll be no more.
And that goes for Tomic’s talented sister Sara too, even if that means Bernard, the country’s top-ranked men’s player, goes ahead with John’s demand that he boycott Australia’s Davis Cup quarter-final next month against Kazakhstan in protest.
Rafter says he has the full support of Davis Cup captain Wally Masur, coach Josh Eagle, Fed Cup skipper Alicia Molik, the head of women’s player development Nicole Pratt and TA’s HR department.
“We’ve talked amongst our team and we have decided we are now not going to support kids whose parents are vocally against everything we’re trying to do,” Rafter said on the eve of Friday’s Wimbledon draw in London.
“Either nasty people or people who go online on Twitter and stuff all the time and are just being abusive.
“So we’re not funding Sara, which is a bit of a shame for Sara because I think she’s a great girl and she has a very good rapport with a lot of TA staff and she always comes across as friendly.
“But unfortunately she is getting roped in because we are not going to tolerate John’s behaviour.”
Rafter revealed his tough stance after John Tomic accused TA of providing “zero support” for 17-year-old Sara, the world No.690, and Bernard accepted a wildcard into a tournament in the USA at the same time as Australia’s Davis Cup tie in Darwin from July 17.
Disappointed that Bernard was threatening to skip the crucial tie with Kazakhstan, Rafter also insisted John Tomic’s claim that his son had been playing Davis Cup “for pittance” as “rubbish”.
The former skipper said not only do the Australian players split 100 per cent of the Davis Cup prize pool, but top-25 stars like Tomic get bonuses and can earn “massive money”.
Rafter quit his position as Cup captain to take on his new role in February and is intent on changing the culture within Australian tennis and says “financially stable” elite players will no longer be funded.
“So, yeah, we do play god a little bit, but I think that’s the way it’s got to be done,” the former world No.1 said in a frank and in-depth interview on Thursday.
“It is a bit dictatorial, however it’s done within a team environment and I believe in it.
“I might be way off the mark and I’ll know in a couple of years, probably three or four years. It might be a disaster when I’m done.
“But I think it’s our role to help a player get to the level that they can and then they’re sort of on their own.
“If we keep funding these top guys that can afford to fund themselves, that stops our ability to fund the lower ones.”