Tomic snub as Hewitt returns
Laine Clark From: The Advertiser April 28, 2010 8:44am
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THE return of Lleyton Hewitt to the Australian Davis Cup team has coincided with the dumping of rising teenager Bernard Tomic.
But Australian captain John Fitzgerald said the pair's public spat had nothing to do with team selection for next week's Asia-Oceania second-round tie against Japan in Brisbane.
Tomic, 17, was a glaring omission when Fitzgerald yesterday named his four-man team for the crunch May 7-9 tie on a specially made clay court at Pat Rafter Arena.
After missing the last tie - a 5-0 sweep of Taiwan in Melbourne in March - Hewitt heads the team with Peter Luczak tipped to take up the No. 2 singles spot and teammates Carsten Ball and Paul Hanley contesting the doubles.
Unimpressed by what he thought was a Wimbledon practice court snub, Hewitt caused a stir in January when he deemed Tomic unworthy of Davis Cup selection. He claimed Luczak was more deserving of the second singles spot.
However, Fitzgerald said Tomic's lack of experience on clay was the reason behind his snub and not his past run-in with Hewitt.
Fitzgerald stressed that "all's good" between the pair.
"I hope one day that they can play in a Davis Cup team together," he said.
"But we've only got four players to pick and have to decide who gives us our best chance on clay now."
Asked about the spat that was reportedly only ended following mediation from tennis great Paul McNamee, Fitzgerald said: "Was it a concern? I don't know how to answer that.
"I think it is healthy that they are at a stage where they are now - it's all good."
Tomic made an impressive Davis Cup debut in Melbourne, winning both singles rubbers.
Fitzgerald said he considered Tomic "a big match player" despite his world No. 295 ranking but opted for No. 72 Luczak due to the surface in Brisbane.
"He (Tomic) was in the mix, though we agreed that it is a good time for him to learn his craft on clay in Europe," Fitzgerald said. "I think he (Tomic) is a big match player, but the surface is a major issue."
Despite Fitzgerald's reservations, Tomic won on clay in Italy, defeating Roberto Marcora in straight sets at a Futures event.
The arrival of Hewitt, 29, in Brisbane depends on how far he progresses in Rome - the world No. 32 was due to play ninth seed Mikhail Youzhny in the first round last night.
Meanwhile, Japan received a blow when hot prospect Kei Nishikori opted to focus on getting in shape for the French Open instead of playing in the tie as he eases his way back from injury.
The Japan squad includes Go Soeda, Yuichi Sugita, Tatsuma Ito and Takao Suzuki - whose world rankings are 184th, 200th, 256th and 315th respectively.
The winners of the tie will advance to the World Group playoffs in September.