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Court points finger at Tennis Australia

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Originally published on: 27/06/12 00:00

Australia are without a singles player in the second round of the men’s singles at Wimbledon for the first time since the Second World War – and one of the country’s greatest tennis names says Tennis Australia is to blame.

Bernard Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt, Matt Ebden and Marinko Matosevic, Australia’s four men in the singles competition, were all beaten first time out, after which Margaret Court accused the country’s national tennis authority of taking junior players away from their coaches too early.

Court, who won 24 Grand Slam singles titles between 1960 and 1973, told Australia’s “Sun Herald” newspaper: “I think they're taking them too early. You throw children, little kids at 13, into a squad. I believe that's where you lose them. They take them off [their coaches] so early and you never see them again. If I look at my coaches, they sewed their life into me. You wonder why the people don't stay in the game so long. It becomes like from such an early age they're so focused, they're like robots.”

Hewitt said Australia’s men had not had the best of draws at Wimbledon this year. Hewitt lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the world No. 5, Tomic to David Goffin, an exciting young Belgian talent, Ebden to the Frenchman Benoit Paire and Matosevic to Xavier Malisse, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Hewitt was asked whether it was fair to say that Australian sport in general was in decline. “I can only comment on the tennis,” he said. “Who knows? Match-ups, there's a lot of different reasons it could have been. Draws, match-ups, whatever. But at least the three of us, the three guys that played today, I know we could have beaten a lot of guys that are still going in the tournament. That's just how it falls.”

Tomic admitted that he had not been working as hard in recent weeks as he might have done. “In the last eight or nine weeks I'm losing a lot of first, second rounds,” he said. “So it's not my quality of tennis. My quality of tennis should be getting to a lot of semi-finals, finals at tournaments or even winning where I had chances over the last eight weeks, but lack of concentration, not working hard, it costs you.”

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