Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley is hoping Bernard Tomic cops his Davis Cup ban on the chin after reaching another dangerous crossroad in his tumultuous career.
Tomic has been stood down from this month’s quarter-final tie against Kazakhstan for his explosive attack on Tiley and other senior TA officials including president Steve Healy and former Cup captain Pat Rafter.
Healy announced the decision on Saturday and said Tomic’s disrespectful and disparaging comments following his third-round Wimbledon exit the previous day effectively ruled him out of contention.
“His behaviour was unacceptable,” Healy said.
“Playing for our country is an absolute privilege, and with that privilege comes an obligation to behave appropriately. He didn’t.”
Among a raft of sensational claims during his 10-minute tirade, Tomic accused the governing body of abandoning him after he underwent double hip surgery last year and that Rafter, now TA’s director of player performance, was merely a “mask” for Tiley and had no idea how to control the budget for player funding.
Tomic’s extraordinary outburst was orchestrated by his father and coach John, who is incensed with Rafter for stopping TA’s financial support to the Tomic family, including 17-year-old Sara.
“The allegations are misinformed and untrue and he (Bernard) publicly derided some outstanding people,” Healy said.
“We are trying to build a strong culture underpinned by a philosophy of opportunity, not entitlement. This behaviour is just not on.
“Hopefully he will learn from this.”
Tiley echoed Healy’s sentiments, but made it clear the ball was now in Tomic’s court.
“It will really be up to Bernard,” he said.
“If he chooses one path that is destructive, that’ll be unfortunate and it’s not going to benefit him.
“If he chooses another path of taking it on the chin and can accept what he’s done is in error and not acceptable, we can move on.”
But with his father’s history of volatile behaviour, there’s no telling how the Tomics will react – and what immediate impact his suspension will have on Australia’s team and prospects of sending retiring champion and captain-in-waiting Lleyton Hewitt out in Davis Cup glory.
Tomic also claimed that if he’d skipped the quarter-final, as initially planned, that Nick Kyrgios would also sit out the grasscourt tie in Darwin from July 17-19.
Healy said after discussions with Australian captain Wally Masur he expected Kyrgios to be available.
Hewitt looms as a crucial peacemaker as John Tomic’s escalating feud with TA – Bernard’s ban and close bond with Kyrgios, threatens to cruel Australia’s Cup hopes – and longer term decimate the team’s ranks.
Tomic departed the All England Club on his own on Saturday night after Tiley earlier escorted him to the players’ restaurant to advise the world No.26 of his punishment.
The former Wimbledon quarter-finalist had been waiting anxiously with Masur on the players’ balcony after briefly stopping to greet Hewitt’s family.
Ironically, after snubbing Hewitt’s invitation to practice with him at Wimbledon six years ago, Tomic now sees the former world No.1 as a close ally and confidante.
The 22-year-old on Friday said he’d backflipped on his decision to boycott the Cup quarter-final “out of respect for Lleyton” and other greats, including coach Tony Roche.
A day earlier Hewitt spoke of his mentor role to Tomic.
“The last probably three years I’ve worked pretty hard with Bernie and I think I’ve built up a good bond there where he certainly trusts me more so than probably most people out there now,” Hewitt said.
“And obviously with the two younger kids (Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis) coming through, that’s been good for Bernie as well because for a while there he was just seen as my successor and he was the only one.
“I think that was weighing pretty heavily on him as well.”
Despite the upheaval, Tomic’s one-tie ban somewhat eases a selection headache for Masur, who was facing the prospect of trying to squeeze five legitimate candidates into his four-man team to be named on Tuesday.
Now Masur is almost certain to use Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, Hewitt and Sam Groth, and also invite Wimbledon qualifier John Millman as a hitting partner.