Pat Rafter gave Bernard Tomic a rocket last week, and insisted it had been a positive experience for the enigmatic Aussie tennis youngster. But veteran Davis Cup coach Tony Roche upped the ante overnight during Tomic's lacklustre loss to Florian Mayer.
Roche berated Tomic during his 91-minute, 6-4 6-2 6-3 straight sets loss, a capitulation which meant Lleyton Hewitt had to win the fifth rubber to keep Australia in the World Group. For once, the patriotic veteran was unable to deliver, his error-riddled 6-4 6-1 6-4 defeat by world No.127 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe seeing Australia consigned to the sport's second tier for the sixth year in succession.
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Tony Roche berates Tomic at Davis Cup
Veteran Davis Cup coach Tony Roche has berated Bernard Tomic for his lackluster performance, losing his rubber in straight sets to Florian Mayer.
SEN commentator Brett Phillips said Roche, sitting just behind Tomic, tore into the 19-year-old as he spoke to team captain Pat Rafter between games.
"We don't know what was said, but it was animated," Phillips said.
Phillips guessed that the usually mild-mannered Roche was saying something along the lines of "It's on the line here … can you get some intensity about you?"
Phillips described Tomic's performance as a "really disappointing effort", and "lackadaisical".
"He almost waved the white flag… he just didn't dig deep enough… he was seemingly going through the motions."
Much now rests on the shoulders of the gifted but erratic youngster, with Lleyton Hewitt reaching the end of a storied Davis Cup career.
Hewitt's mistake-prone loss saw the Australian team sent back to the Davis Cup wilderness with a soul-crushing defeat against Germany in Hamburg.
Hewitt succumbed to world No.127 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-4 6-1 6-4 in the deciding rubber as Australia let slip a 2-1 lead in a World Group playoff for a third straight year.
In glorious conditions at Rothenbaum Stadium, Australia's 3-2 defeat condemned the 28-time Cup winners to a sixth straight season in the competition's second tier.
Mayer ruthlessly exploited Tomic's lack of agility to force a deciding rubber. The teenager looked lost at times as Mayer deftly moved him around the court.
Tomic's defeat was expected, but Hewitt's loss to world No.127 Stebe wasn't.
Australia's greatest Davis Cup servant has a burning desire to return the nation to the top-flight before he exits the sport.
And he was favoured to finish off the job against Stebe, the home nation's 11th-highest ranked singles player having lost to Tomic in four sets on Friday.
However the young German had the benefit of playing Hewitt at this year's Australian Open and being on his favourite surface.
The South Australian jumped a tentative Stebe for an early 3-0 lead but allowed the German back in the set with a series of errors.
That sparked the home crowd to life and, with Hewitt tightening up, Stebe fed off the crowd and collected 11 of the next 12 games.
A subdued Hewitt left the court after the second set and tried to mix up his game on his return.
He looked to have steadied until the seventh game where Stebe cracked his serve for the sixth time and the German held on to claim the valuable win.
Earlier, Mayer continued where he had left off from his pummelling of Hewitt on Friday.
World No.25 Mayer and Tomic had met once on tour before Sunday's showdown with the German cleaning up the Queenslander 6-2 6-2 on hardcourt in Brisbane.
The hardened campaigner delivered another lesson to the teenager, using his drop shot to deadly effect against his heavy-footed opponent.
Mayer had demoralised Tomic by the midpoint of the second set with the Australian's shoulders starting to slump.
Australian tennis legend Paul McNamee told SEN that the disappointing Davis Cup result is a result of poor planning.
"In winning matches away, overseas countries are clearly going to play us on clay, which is Lleyton's weakest surface and Bernard Tomic's weakest surface …
"We needed to invest quite a long time ago in more clay courts and grounding juniors on how to play on clay. Surely Bernard Tomic's movement last night showed he's not yet a true clay court player and that probably should have been addressed a long time ago. I do blame the administration for doing not nearly enough about clay court tennis."
McNamee says the current administration of Tennis Australia has favoured blue hard court surfaces.
"This result is borne on the fact that not enough investment and know-how was put into this process five, six, seven years ago.
"I'm just shocked that we didn't learn the lessons from [losing to] Switzerland 12 months ago."
- with AAP