MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Frustrated Australia number one Bernard Tomic questioned team mate Nick Kyrgios’s withdrawal from the Davis Cup tie against the United States in Melbourne after the hosts crashed out of the tournament’s first round on Sunday.
Rising talent Kyrgios withdrew from the tie with a virus days before the opening singles on Friday, leaving 77th-ranked Sam Groth to battle world number 11 John Isner at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.
Groth was beaten easily by Isner and the big-serving American returned on Sunday to grind down 20th-ranked Tomic in four sets and put the U.S. into the quarter-finals for the first time in three years.
During a change of ends while playing Isner, Tomic was picked up by courtside microphones complaining to team captain Lleyton Hewitt that Kyrgios had “faked” injuries twice to avoid Davis Cup ties.
“Nick’s sitting down in Canberra. It’s bullshit he’s sick,” the 23-year-old said.
World number 27 Kyrgios also missed Australia’s first round tie against Czech Republic last year with a back injury but returned to the court at Indian Wells two weeks later.
Tomic noted that Kyrgios was on the entry list for this year’s Indian Wells and told reporters he would “lose respect” for the 20-year-old if he competed there.
“He didn’t come to Czech and had stress fractures and somehow played Indian Wells and felt good,” Tomic said at the post-match media conference.
”Now it’s going to be funny for me to see whether he plays.
“If he plays Indian Wells, then he’s definitely lost a little bit of my respect.”
Tomic carried a wrist injury into the tie and said he had played with pain.
“In a situation where it wasn’t Davis Cup, I would have pulled out and not played with the pain I was playing with,” he said.
Tomic’s tirade tore apart the veneer of harmony that captain Hewitt has been at pains to present after in-fighting overshadowed Australia’s run to the semi-finals last year.
Tomic was kicked off the team last year for a second time in his career after publicly criticizing top Australian tennis officials at Wimbledon last year.
Kyrgios was also omitted for the semi-final against eventual champions Britain after generating a storm of criticism for directing a lewd comment at two-times grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka during a match in Canada.
Hewitt, who replaced Kyrgios in the team at Kooyong and lost the doubles with John Peers on Saturday, defended the player’s withdrawal before the tie and repeated on Sunday that he had no case to answer.
“Nick came down here and gave everything he had to try to be available and there’s no doubt he was sick,” Hewitt said.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly