Bernard Tomic’s public falling out with Tennis Australia has reached a new, farcical low, with the governing body forced into issuing an apology after an email was sent saying Tomic was to play in the upcoming “Hall of Shame Tennis Championships”.
Tomic is in fact due to feature in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP Tour grass court event taking place in the American city of Newport this week. The Queenslander has been handed a wildcard to the tournament and will play fellow Australian John-Patrick Smith in his opening round of 32 match.
Tennis Australia was quick to rectify the error and a corrected email was re-sent soon after the original, followed by a statement in which the mistake was blamed on an error in the organisation’s results service.
“Tennis Australia sincerely apologises for the typo in the daily results service today,” the statement said. “This has now been corrected and we wish both Bernard Tomic and JP Smith all the best in the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport.
“This unfortunate error has been widely circulated on social media and there is some discussion as to how such a mistake could occur.
“We have a very upset staff member who made a simple clerical error. The result listing before the Hall of Fame Championships, the Sharm El Sheikh event in Egypt, won by Astra Sharma, should provide some explanation as to how this error occurred. There was no malicious intent.”
But the significance of the timing of the faux pas may not be lost on Tomic, given it comes just over a week after he followed his exit from Wimbledon – to eventual winner Novak Djokovic, in the third round – with an extraordinary press conference tirade against Tennis Australia officials.
Tomic pulled no punches as he hit out at TA chief executive Craig Tilley, president Steve Healy and performance director Pat Rafter in response to a perceived “lack of respect” for him and the withdrawal of funding for him and his sister Sara.
He had previously threatened to boycott the Davis Cup team over his long-standing issues with Tennis Australia, but in London he vowed to remain available out of respect for retiring Lleyton Hewitt and the competition itself.
He was later dumped from the team anyway, with Healy citing the player’s “unacceptable behaviour” as the main reason for his omission from the squad to play Kazakhstan in the World Group quarter-final tie later this month.
“Playing for our country is an absolute privilege and with that privilege comes an obligation to behave appropriately. He didn’t,” Healy said.
It was a theme taken up by Dawn Fraser two days later when the swimming legend launched a verbal attack on Tomic and fellow young Australian star Nick Kyrgios, telling the pair to “go back to where their fathers or parents came from”. She added in an interview on Channel Nine’s Today program, “We don’t need them here in this country if they act like that.”
Kyrgios responded by calling Fraser “a blatant racist” and the 77-year-old Olympic champion subsequently issued an apology, although her sincerity was called into question in some quarters. Kyrgios’s brother Christos later said, “The apology means nothing to me.”
The feud threatening to rip apart Australian tennis has shown no signs of abating since.
Kyrgios, who came under fire for his on-court behaviour at Wimbledon but will still fly the flag for Australia in the Davis Cup tie in Darwin, again took to social media on Sunday after Rafter had issued thinly-veiled criticism of Tomic in a newspaper interview.
“Another negative comment out of Rafters mouth,” Kyrgios tweeted in a post that was later deleted. “Does this guy ever stop?”
In that interview Rafter had also suggested the rift between Tomic and TA was nearly beyond repair.
This article was written by Mike Hytner, for theguardian.com on Monday 13th July 2015 04.44 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010