TENNIS bad boy Bernard Tomic claims Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt bullied him as a teenager, which planted the seeds for their ugly public bust-up earlier this month.
In a sit-down interview with 60 Minutes last night, Tomic and his father John claimed the bullying began in the lead-up to a Davis Cup tie against Taiwan in Melbourne in 2010.
Tomic was 16 at the time.
The Tomics told interviewer Allison Langdon that Hewitt came into Bernard’s hotel room and demanded the teen tell him who at Tennis Australia was “against him”.
The father and son duo allege Hewitt threatened Bernard, telling him that he would never play Davis Cup again if he didn’t tell Hewitt what he wanted to hear.
Sensationally, John said he reported the incident at the time, but it was ignored by Tennis Australia.
“He sat me down and said, ‘You’re not playing Davis Cup mate tomorrow. Unless you tell me’,” Tomic claimed.
“I’m asking you, Allison, what’s happening if I bullied somebody 16 years old and threatened to him you locked in your room. What’s happened?” John said.
“We have beautiful country, strong law. Who is Lleyton Hewitt? Who is?”
The alleged bullying, the Tomics say, was the precursor to Bernard and Hewitt’s very public spat earlier this month.
Hewitt, in turn, claims that Tomic had blackmailed him and made physical threats to him and his family.
Hewitt is currently captain of Australia’s Davis Cup team, which Tomic believes is detrimental to the game.
Tomic, after his first-round Australian Open defeat, also accused Hewitt of favouring certain players.
“I’m only speaking the honest truth of what I know and what I think, and what a lot of people know, as well, but are too afraid to come out,” Bernard said on 60 Minutes.
Since the tit-for-tat barbs at the Australian Open, Hewitt has shut down all questions about the showdown.
Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt have unleashed on one another in a series of press conferences.
Aussie tennis saga: Tomic vs Hewitt