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Lleyton Hewitt plays mentor after Bernard Tomic fallout
PRIVATE talks with wayward prodigy Bernard Tomic have led Lleyton Hewitt to declare the maligned talent still has a future in tennis.
Hewitt claims Tomic has the potential to cement a top-10 ranking despite the 20-year-old's surprise Davis Cup axing last week.
Disappointed with Tomic's attitude, Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter dumped him for the February tie against Chinese Taipei in Taiwan.
Hewitt said he agreed with Rafter's decision, believing Tomic needs to learn the hard way. He then revealed he has become part of the troubled star's support network.
"I help Bernie out a lot," the former world No.1 said.
"I'm not going to come out and say the things he needs to work on, but between he and I, we've spoken about things.
"I think he feels that he can talk to me, which is a good thing. I can definitely help him in certain areas of his game, for him to make that next stance and try to get back in the top 30 in the world, potentially the top 20 and maybe the top 10."
When asked if he agreed with Rafter's decision to axe Tomic due to his behaviour, Hewitt said: "Pat Rafter has obviously made a stance where you have to live up to his expectations to be part of the Australian David Cup team.
"Obviously Bernie has done a few things that haven't agreed with Pat, especially over the past 12 months or so, and he's going to have to pay a price for that.
"Pat's come in a made some tough decisions, but Pat's heart is in the right place in terms of getting Australian tennis where it belongs.
"And I'm along the same lines as Pat in terms of we belong back in the world group, and that's what our goal is."
Other greats, including Grand Slam winners Sam Stosur and Andre Agassi, questioned Tomic's dedication to the sport, urging the young gun to "knuckle down".
Hewitt said Tomic's performance in his next tournament would depend on how he bounced back from Davis Cup rejection.
"He's obviously done some things during this time, and this is going to be another learning experience," Hewitt said. "There's no doubt he has exceptional talent, but he has to use it in the right way."
Rusty - always # 1 in my heart