In an extraordinary post-script to Australia's 3-1 loss to the US at Kooyong, Bernard Tomic has declared he will lose "a little bit of my respect" for friend and Davis Cup teammate Nick Kyrgios should the Australian No.2 rise from his sickbed to contest this week's ATP tournament in Indian Wells.
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Bernard Tomic has lashed out at Davis Cup teammate Nick Kygios, saying he was faking his illness.
After a first round tie played without the ill Kyrgios, in which the injured Tomic dropped the must-win fourth rubber against John Isner, the high-profile duo had a telephone conversation in which some frank views were apparently aired.
The tension first became public during a third set change of ends, when a struggling Tomic complained to his captain, Lleyton Hewitt, that "Nick's sitting down in Canberra. Bulls--t he's sick." The Queenslander also said it was "two times he done it, two times he faked it", referring to Kyrgios' late withdrawal from last year's first round win over the Czech Republic in Ostrava.
Having briefly tried to pass off the criticism with the party line of "just in the heat of the moment", Tomic then confirmed his doubts about the validity of the Kyrgios virus, despite having only days earlier described the dual grand slam quarter-finalist as being "very, very sick".
Kyrgios is believed to have been prescribed strong antibiotics, plus mouth cream for ulcers that have hampered his ability to eat, Hewitt having said last week that the dual grand slam quarter-finalist was "struggling to get out of bed". He was ruled out by team medical staff after a fitness test before Thursday's draw on Thursday.
"I would have loved him to be here, but he is obviously sick like he says he is, and for me I think just now it will be seeing if he actually plays Indian Wells, because a similar situation happened last year where he didn't come to Czech and he had stress fractures and somehow played Indian Wells and felt good," said Tomic, who said his own participation in the Masters 1000 event was now in doubt. "So now it's going to be really funny for me to see the next two days whether he plays or not, which I think he will... If he plays Indian Wells, then he's definitely lost a little bit of my respect."
The pair spoke post-match by phone, when Tomic said Kyrgios advised him he expected to resume tournament play as planned. "I'll be honest with you now, he told me he's playing Indian Wells, so …" So, respect lost, then? "A little bit, yeah. I mean, look, I came here, we all knew I had problems with my wrist. I came here, I had pain today a lot. In a situation where it wasn't Davis Cup I would have pulled out, and not played today with the pain I was playing in. So in this situation today I pushed through, I played, but I'm just going to be really, really interested if he does actually go."
As to how the conversation finished: "Pretty well, on good terms. But it's just weird. One of the questions I asked him was 'are you playing Indian Wells?', and he was like 'yeah, I should. I'm still sick but I'm gonna be better tomorrow'. It's just weird for me. I've said enough. at the end of the day it's just disappointing to not have him here. He's an amazing player and it would have been important to have him here."
Tomic nevertheless said he shared a "good" relationship with his pal and sometime doubles partner. "We're pretty open with each other, that's an important thing. He's a good guy, he's got his own personality, I have mine, but obviously now we would have loved to have him here and he's obviously in Sydney, Canberra, wherever he is."
Hewitt, who came out of the nowhere known as retirement for Saturday's five-set doubles loss with newcomer John Peers, said he did not share his singles spearhead's sentiments, which he explained were said "in the heat of the moment,", naturally, and "frustration". In the cool of the interview room, though, the message was emphatically repeated, to Hewitt's apparent discomfort.
"We ruled Nick out," Hewitt said. "He came down here, he gave everything he had to try and put his hand up to be available, there's no doubt he was sick, absolutely no doubt, and we did a fitness test with him on Thursday morning before we had to make any decision re changing names before the draw, and he was ruled out by the medical staff, and I had to sit down and try and come up with the best possible plan without using Nick then.
I've spoken to him already. If he plays Indian Wells, then he's definitely lost a little bit of my respect.
"Bernie's come here and Bernie 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 and came straight to the courts to practise. For me, though, I asked Nick to come down here and prepared and give it a shot and he did that as well, and then he got ruled out by the medical staff, so for me both boys did exactly what I asked them to do."