MELBOURNE • Australia's two leading tennis stars, Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios, are at odds, forcing new captain Lleyton Hewitt into a peacemaking role in an extraordinary postscript to the country's Davis Cup loss to the United States yesterday.
Tomic challenged the commitment of Kyrgios to the competition after his team-mate's withdrawal from the Kooyong tie with illness and back trouble.
John Isner was too strong for Tomic, winning 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-4) to win the tie 3-1, putting the US into the quarter-finals. Yet there was controversy during the match when Tomic was overheard during a changeover questioning Kyrgios' absence.
Television microphones caught him, while talking to Hewitt, muttering: "Nick's sitting down in Canberra. B***s*** he's sick."
Tomic was also heard saying "that's twice he's done it", in possible reference to Kyrgios' withdrawal from the tie against the Czech Republic last year.
WAR OF WORDS
Nick's sitting down in Canberra. B***s*** he's sick.
BERNARD TOMIC, questioning the commitment of Nick Kyrgios to Australia's Davis Cup cause.
Heat of the moment, not gonna take it personally. Indian Wells a week away, plenty of time. Just don't expect me to have your back any time soon.
KYRGIOS, in reply on Twitter, refusing to be drawn into the controversy.
Later, the world No. 20 did not resile from his comments and questioned the legitimacy of the virus that ruled out Kyrgios if he was competing as planned at Indian Wells this week.
Tomic said Kyrgios told him he was planning to play in Indian Wells, where the first round starts on Thursday.
Australia's top-ranked player recalled that a similar situation occurred a year ago. "He didn't come to Czech and had stress fractures and somehow played Indian Wells and felt good," the 23-year-old said at the post-match press conference.
He said it was disappointing not to have the world No. 27 playing in last weekend's Davis Cup tie.
"He's an amazing player and it would have been important to have him here," said Tomic, adding that he was not 100 per cent himself because of a wrist injury and would have withdrawn from any other tournament barring the Davis Cup.
Kyrgios responded with two posts on his Twitter account yesterday.
"Heat of the moment, not gonna take it personally. Indian Wells a week away, plenty of time," the 20-year-old wrote. "Just don't expect me to have your back any time soon."
Hewitt did not share Tomic's sentiments either.
"For me, we ruled Nick out," he said. "There's no doubt he was sick, absolutely no doubt.
"We did a fitness test with him on Thursday morning before we had to make any decision about changing names before the draw, and he was ruled out by the medical staff."