Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter says he and Bernard Tomic have buried the hatchet and is hopeful of having the resurgent youngster back for Australia’s second-round qualifying tie in April – if his weakened line-up makes it.
Tomic remains suspended from Australia’s qualifying tie in Taiwan from February 1-3 after Rafter disciplined the 20-year-old last month for his poor attitude and dreadful end to 2012.
In a seemingly tit-for-tat response, Tomic earlier this month said he had no interest in speaking with Rafter until September, when Australia are hoping to contest another World Group playoff.
But after announcing his line-up for Taiwan on Monday, Rafter said Tomic had since recommitted to the Cup cause after the pair cleared the air following Tomic’s third-round Australian Open loss to Roger Federer.
“It’s the first time I made contact with him since early November. We had a great conversation,” Rafter said.
“Obviously I spoke to him about just going forward, what he thinks about Davis Cup in the future, if he wants to be part of the team.
“It was really important for us to have contact straightaway … obviously he’s playing great tennis and it’s a shame not to have him available for the first one in some ways.
“But in other ways we have to stand firm on our decision not to have him in this team.
“When the April tie comes around, providing we win, mind you, I hope he’ll be available. He’ll be part of the selection team like everyone else.
“But obviously if he’s playing like he was at the back end of last year it would be hard to put him in.
“If he’s playing like he is now, obviously he’ll be a starter for sure.”
Rafter admitted Tomic “didn’t jump out of his skin” in putting his hand up.
“The proviso I put on to it was obviously we need to work things out,” he said.
“Hopefully we’re still on, not great terms, but good terms. I think our last conversation was that.
“He needs to respect me and I need to respect him in that manner. If we have a breakdown, then obviously that’s not a good thing.”
With Tomic out, Rafter named Lleyton Hewitt, Marinko Matosevic, Matt Ebden and doubles specialist Chris Guccione to face Taiwan, while Luke Saville will also travel as a hitting partner and standby player.
Rafter has no regrets about suspending Tomic, who bounced back to record 10 straight wins before Federer ended his summer campaign at Melbourne Park.
“The reason we left him out was hopefully to teach him a lesson,” Rafter said.
“He came back at us pretty well. I think he used that anger, channelled it and played some great tennis here.
“I don’t mind how he gets up to playing great tennis … whatever spurs him on.”
New Cup coach Josh Eagle, who has replaced Tony Roche – who will stay on as a team mentor – said Tomic’s suspension was not dissimilar to Matosevic’s for Australia’s World Group playoff in Germany last September.
“The great thing about Marinko, that really hurt him last year,” Eagle said.
“He thought just by winning matches and getting his ranking to 60 around the US Open, he thought he was a walk-up starter for the Davis Cup tie in Hamburg.
“Pat made it very clear to him due to his poor behaviour when he was representing Australia that he wouldn’t be selected.
“That sends a great message to these guys. He went away, responded magnificently and finished the year top 50.
“Ultimately, what we want is people to be proud to represent Australia.”