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Tennis Australia chief slams 'disrespectful' Tomic in Rio row

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Tennis Australia chief Steve Healy has labeled Bernard Tomic disrespectful and said Nick Kyrgios was picking unnecessary fights with Olympic officials as the debate over who should represent the country at the Rio Games continued on Wednesday.

Australia's Bernard Tomic hits a shot during his third round match against compatriot John Millman at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 24, 2016. REUTERS/Brandon Malone

Kyrgios and Tomic are the country’s top ranked men’s players but were both warned last weekend by Australia’s chef de mission for the Games, Kitty Chiller, that they were among a group of athletes whose behavior was being monitored.

Tomic had been lambasted for holding his racket by the strings and not offering a shot when facing match point at last week’s Madrid Open, responding to criticism by saying: “Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10 million?”

Chiller described the incident involving the world number 22 as “appalling” and TA President Healy said he was also concerned.

“I think it’s a disrespect for the game and his opponent, and that’s the thing that I think troubles us,” he told The Age newspaper.

“Bernard does some good things and then he disrespects the game. I think it’s a bit of an insult to the fans and to the opponent when you don’t try all the way through the match.

“He’s making progress in terms of his ranking, his performances and so on, and then he just does something that basically unwinds all the good he does, and so you shake your head in disbelief.”

Kyrgios’ response to Chiller’s warning came via a cheeky tweet and then at the Italian Open, where he said if Australia did not want their best players at the Rio Games “then so be it”.

Healy said the world number 20, who combines a rare tennis talent with a reputation for firing insults at fellow players, umpires and fans, had been “pretty good” this year but thought the 21-year-old should not have responded to Chiller.

“It’s unnecessary,” he said. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t just let it go. I wish he wouldn’t do that. I think he creates a rod for his own back.

“I just don’t think he needs to get into that sort of war. Why didn’t he just say ‘yeah, I acknowledge that’s part of the responsibility of representing Australia’? Or say nothing.”

The deadline for nominations for the team, which then have to approved by the Australian Olympic Committee, is June 30 and Healy said they would be discussed by the TA board next week.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty