The father of under-fire star Bernard Tomic has levelled sensational accusations against Lleyton Hewitt as Australia's ugly tennis feud goes nuclear.
John Tomic told the Sydney Morning Herald that Hewitt left his son traumatised when he was 17 following an incident in 2010 when he tried to pressure him into revealing who in Tennis Australia was "against" him.
Tomic claimed this week no Australian players liked Hewitt, sparking a bombshell accusation from the Davis Cup skipper. Hewitt claimed Tomic had threatened him and his family and tried to blackmail him. Tomic responded by calling the former World No. 1 a "liar".
"Bernard said something on the television before that Lleyton didn't like," Tomic snr said.
"(Hewitt) came into Bernard's room, closed the door and pushed (Davis Cup captain) John Fitzgerald out and he said, 'You have to tell me who from TA is against me'." Tomic Snr said Hewitt was on crutches at the time and told his son he would not play Davis Cup for Australia again unless he spoke up about TA. "He tried to force him to say something," Tomic Snr said. "Bernard was shocked, he couldn't sleep all night. Bernard had made a comment at Melbourne Park that mentioned Lleyton Hewitt. That comment Lleyton didn't like and he asked, 'Who told you to say that?' "He was young ... 16 and a half or 17. How can you come in the room and threaten him and say you won't play Davis Cup and say you won't be close to me if you don't tell me who from Tennis Australia is telling you what to say?"
John Tomic confirmed they would take legal action against Hewitt next week.
"We will prove that Bernard has trauma from 2010 when Bernard was the youngest player in Davis Cup for Australia," he said.
"They will try to protect him but we will find the truth in the court."
TENNIS OFFICIALS' SALTY TOMIC CLAPBACK
Four days after Bernard Tomic dropped a series of explosive claims on Australian tennis, Tennis Australia has finally responded with a salty statement of its own.
Tennis Australia's chief tennis officer Matt Dwyer on Friday night sent out a press release as Aussie star Alex de Minaur was struggling to stay in the second set against Rafael Nadal.
The incredible media statement takes a sly shot at Tomic for his refusal to meet the behavioural standards Aussie Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has introduced while also appearing to rub the 26-year-old's nose in the incredible success Australia's developing players have enjoyed this week at Melbourne Park.
Tomic on Monday declared Hewitt had "ruined" the Australian Davis Cup system and declared both Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios had told him they do not want to play while Hewitt remains at the helm.
Hewitt responded in his doubles post-match media conference on Thursday night by saying his relationship with Tomic is irreparable as a result of physical threats and blackmail attempts Tomic has allegedly attempted to execute since their final falling out in 2017.
Hewitt was singing a different tune on Friday night when he took to social media to urge Australia to switch its focus back onto the incredible action happening on the court for likeable locals at Melbourne Park this week.
Dwyer's statement also urged the Australian public to celebrate the incredible first week, which saw five Australian men and women move through to the third round. Neither Tomic, Kokkinakis or Kyrgios were among them, having exited the year's first major in the opening round.
Dwyer clearly exposed Tomic's failure at this year's Open by praising the performances of stars including Ash Barty and Alex de Minaur.
"Ash Barty's terrific win today continues an exciting new era in Australian tennis that has gathered momentum in the last couple of weeks," Dwyer said in the statement.
"Tonight Alex de Minaur and Kim Birrell are playing the biggest matches of their young careers and we have no doubt they will acquit themselves well.
"The common denominator of these successes, along with the wonderful wins last night for Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin, has been each player's unwavering passion to compete and their genuine love of the game, all underpinned by the Tennis Australia values of excellence, loyalty, teamwork and humility.
"Support and opportunities will be offered to players who live these values and demonstrate the commitment to maximize their potential, with our ultimate ambition being to develop and foster athletes we can all be proud of."
HEWITT WHACKED: 'I WOULDN'T HAVE SAID A WORD'
Hewitt went just as hard at Tomic as the controversial star went at him in two press conferences that rocked the Open.
And not everyone is happy about it — including Tomic.
Hewitt had been backed into a corner by the world number 88 when he levelled serious accusations of bias and misconduct at the Davis Cup captain after bowing out of the opening grand slam of the year in the first round.
Hewitt, 37, faced calls from the tennis media to respond — and after an underwhelming interview with host broadcaster Channel 9 — finally fronted the press pack, albeit after being eliminated from the doubles competition on Thursday.
Seated beside playing partner John-Patrick Smith, Hewitt savagely returned serve at Tomic, revealing the personal abuse he'd experienced at the hands of the Queenslander, which included allegations of physical threats and blackmail.
In a tit-for-tat that shows no sign of slowing, Tomic has returned serve. "I have never threatened his family," Tomic told the Herald Sun.
"Nice, Lleyton. To think how low of a person you actually and (it's) why the Australian public never liked you.
"I got nothing to do with your family and I don't care what's wrong with you, you liar."
Hewitt's claims, which also included alleged threats against his family, including wife Bec, dominated the headlines on a day the number of Australians who qualified for the third round grew to five with upset wins by wildcards Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin.
And not everyone was happy at Hewitt's spotlight-stealing interview, including his former coach Roger Rasheed.
"I wouldn't have said a word," Rasheed told SEN SA on Friday morning.
"I don't like it when that is aired. Lleyton didn't need to. What he's done speaks for itself.
"He's the Davis Cup captain so he can decide to lead the team and the culture you want in the team, that's your prerogative.
"We want that stuff to be played out behind closed doors. and I think now there would need to be an investigation around it.
"I'm sure Tennis Australia and the management would want to lock this away, do their due diligence and try and move forward. They've (TA) got some really good stories on the tennis court and that's what we should be celebrating."
CHANNEL 9 STAR'S FURIOUS RANT
Channel 9 broadcaster Tony Jones also delivered a frustrated rant on Today, which was mainly directed at Tomic for creating the firestorm but also didn't miss Hewitt.
"I can't believe we are sitting here on a morning when we should be celebrating the fact that five Aussies are through to the third round and talking about things like that," Jones said.
"To me, it is very, very sad when you have people like Rod Laver, who the main stadium is named after sitting court side most days, you have got ornaments like Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, who was just class personified when she played, and yet we have this wave of tennis players who are fortunately on the way out.
"I am not having a go at Lleyton Hewitt per se, by the way, I am having a go at the Bernard Tomics of this world. Bernard, pack your bags and go away. Really, you are a blot on the Australian sporting landscape and the more this is played out, the more Tennis Australia needs to intervene and say, 'Enough is enough'.
"I know we (Channel 9) are a corporate partner, (but) Tennis Australia is sitting on its hands and it needs to do something now. Like today."
"You call them together and say, 'Enough is enough'," Jones added. "They've got to call them in and say 'enough is enough, Lleyton, don't do that'.
"In a way Tennis Australia is its own worst enemy for allowing Bernard Tomic to get away with what he got away with early in the piece. They should have cracked down on it instead of being a toothless tiger and cowtailing it.
"I know Tennis Australia won't like that. Nor will some of my bosses, but the simple fact is they have to do something so we don't have the De Minaurs of this world and the Bolts of this world becoming the petulant brats some of these others have become."
HEWITT DISHES ON TOMIC ABUSE
Tomic, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2011, followed his first-round loss at the Australian Open by saying Hewitt should quit as Davis Cup captain because he favours certain players and is unpopular with others.
Hewitt, a two-time major winner, said their conflict originated more than a year ago with disagreements over whether he should grant Tomic wildcard invitations for tournaments.
Hewitt said he won't allow Tomic to represent Australia in the Davis Cup "while I have anything to do with it."
"For me, it was probably the abuse that I caught from him that, yeah, in the end I drew a line in the sand," Hewitt said, adding that there was little chance of reconciliation.
"No. No. I think the threats that I've received, for me and my family ... I don't think anyone would reach out to a person that speaks like that."
Hewitt didn't go into specifics about the alleged threats, except to say it revolved around wildcards and Davis Cup selection and that he didn't feel personally threatened.
Asked if the threats were physical or verbal, Hewitt said it was both. Asked if he felt the threats were empty, Hewitt replies "Yes."
Hewitt won the US Open in 2001, Wimbledon in 2002 and helped Australia win Davis Cup titles in 1999 and 2003. He became Davis Cup captain in 2016, soon after retiring from singles.
He said he'd tried to establish "cultural standards" for players representing Australia, and Tomic "hasn't really been close to those in the last couple of years."
"The biggest frustration is I feel like I really went out of my way to help Bernie ... spent a lot of time with him one-on-one at a lot of tournaments," Hewitt said. "Tried to get a coaching structure around him to give him the best opportunity. He still kept making the wrong mistakes."
The current friction in Australian men's tennis contrasts with the gentility of past stars like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall and more recently, the likes of Pat Rafter overruling line calls and giving points to his opponents long before video replays existed.
Australian men's tennis is now marked by social media rants and embarrassing on-court comments. And, to make matters worse, few decent results from the senior players.
Former Australian star Jelena Dokic also weighed in on the matter when appearing on Nine's Today Show and felt that it is time for Tomic to go and focus on his own game rather than worry about other issues.
"To hear that is pretty horrible," Dokic said of the allegations made by Hewitt.
"It's not the way you want to go about things, so absolutely something needs to be done.
"It's just hard to be hearing all these things when for the first time in 15 years we've got five Aussies in the third round, which is incredible.
"It's being a little bit overshadowed by this. With Bernie, you know, things have been coming out for a while.
"Look, he's 26 now, I think he needs to turn his focus onto his tennis, and needs to go out, needs to work hard, and try and win some matches — that's where his focus needs to be."