26-year-old South Australian Alex Bolt was among the new Aussie breed who continued the early success on day two, after eight Aussie players progressed on day one and return on Wednesday where the feared Melbourne heatwave has proved less oppressive than expected.
Rising 19-year old Aussie star Alex De Minaur and locals John Millman and Jordan Thompson will play again, as does a host of young Aussie women including Ashleigh Barty, Kimberley Birrell, Astra Sharma and Zoe Hives in a blockbuster line-up.
The emerging talent has taken some of the attention off long-time performers Sam Stosur, Nick Kyrios and Thanasi Kokkinakis – forced from the tournament with injury on Tuesday – after the male pair were dragged into the Tomic feud after claims they also did not want to play under Hewitt because he had “ruined the system”.
Tennis Australia expected to hold an urgent meeting with Hewitt to determine their response to the outspoken criticisms that “no one likes him [Hewitt] any more” and that certain Aussie players associated with his management company were “under Lleyton’s wing” in a “conflict of interest”.
Doubles champion Todd Woodbridge joined others to condemn Tomic’s attack as a distraction from positive start of the hometown hopefuls, after a decade of little success at the Australian Open.
“One of the most disappointing things here is it’s become his [Tomic’s] habit of deflecting a loss and deflecting what work he does to try to get better as a tennis player,” Woodbridge told 3AW radio.
“Lleyton copped it last night. The last one that copped it, at Wimbledon a couple of years ago, was Pat Rafter,” he said.
Back to reality TV
Former Aussie player Sam Groth agreed that “in a time where we should be celebrating Australian tennis in the country, we’re talking about a guy who has bowed out in straight sets in the first round and we haven’t really spoken about because this time last year he was off doing reality TV,” Groth told radio SEN.
Hewitt’s former coach Roger Rasheed told Sky Sports Radio that “[Hewitt] gave everything to the sport and you’ve got someone having pot shots. Regardless of what the situation is I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”
Other tennis favourites continued their easy run on Tuesday where Serena Williams raced through her match in just 49 minutes, after dramatically unveiling a jade green jumpsuit.
In-form Aussie Minaur will look to continue his run of good form when he takes on Swiss-Finnish qualifier Henri Laaksonen on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday night while Aussie Matt Ebden faces second seed Rafael Nadal on Rod Laver Arena.
Ash Barty faces 64th ranked Yafan Wang from China in the second match on Rod Laver Arena. Other Aussie’s playing on day three include John Millman against 22nd seed Robert Bautista Agut and wildcards Zoe Hives and Kimberly Birrell, qualifier Astra Sharma and Jordan Thompson.