So says Hewitt himself, with the Australian captain breaking his silence on Tomic to reveal the one-time spearhead is languishing down the pecking order after a nightmare season.
From No.17 in the world in January 2016, Tomic has plummeted to 146th in the rankings.
The former grand slam quarter-finalist now faces the prospect of having to qualify for the Australian Open in January – or ask Tennis Australia for a wildcard that the governing body is unlikely to grant after years of battles with the Tomic family.
After reaching the third round of this year’s Australian Open, Tomic’s spectacular decline has coincided with his decision to sit out Davis Cup and effectively alienate himself from Hewitt and ex-teammates.
Tomic has also cut ties with Hewitt’s management company, but Hewitt insists the pair remain on good terms.
“My relationship’s been fine with him. No, it’s always been fine with Bernie,” Hewitt said ahead of Australia’s semi-final with Belgium starting on Friday in Brussels.
“But at the start of the year he opted not to play the Davis Cup and then, I guess, things just snowballed for him in terms of where it started getting a bit out of control with how he was playing.
“Also his lack of fitness, I guess, and being able to last five sets, which is a massive issue in Davis Cup.
“And now, some of these young boys that I’ve been able to pick and I’ve given the opportunity to have taken it with both hands as well.
“So Bernard, it will always be open, that opportunity to come back.
“But he’s a long way off it right at the moment.”
Tomic, who built an impressive 17-4 win-loss record since debuting as a teenage prodigy in 2010, says he’d like to return to the team competition in the future but concedes he hasn’t been “mentally there” in 2017.
Hewitt will instead rely on Nick Kyrgios, Jordan Thompson, doubles specialist John Peers and the recalled Thanasi Kokkinakis – back from injury for his first tie in two years – for this week’s indoor claycourt match-up with Belgium.
Success for Australia would mean hosting either France or Serbia in the November 24-26 final.
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