As new details emerge about John Tomic’s alleged assault on his son’s hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, The New York Times reports that the ATP World Tour has suspended Tomic’s credentials for all ATP events until further notice.
Tennis Australia is already working to provide Bernard Tomic the support he needs as he prepares for the French Open. That support includes bringing in a new coach in the event his father is jailed, banned from tennis or Tomic decides to finally part ways with his father.
Davis Cup captain Patrick Rafter and Tennis Australia’s Todd Woodbridge plan to talk to Bernard Tomic about his coaching situation in Paris.
“John is his coach but will obviously be out of the picture now — we don’t know for how long — so helping Bernard is our priority,” Woodbridge told The Australian. “It’s looking at who might be an option as a long-term coach for Bernard. It’s not about walking up to someone and saying, ‘Would you coach him?’ It’s about choosing the right person for the style of play.”
Drouet told French magazine L’Equipe that John’s alleged assault on him, which left him unconscious with a broken nose, was not an isolated incident. The 29-year-old who served as Tomic’s hitting partner said he saw John physically assault Bernard multiple times. He’s speaking out in hopes that tennis officials step in and do something to protect both Bernard and his younger sister, Sara, a 15-year-old junior player.
“Bernard bled from the mouth around the lips and teeth,” he said. ‘‘Bernard was bleeding around the mouth, the teeth, there was blood on the court. All that because Bernard had told him that he had had enough of hearing his criticisms. I didn’t intervene as I have read I did other places. Afterward, John took Bernard’s three rackets and destroyed them. Bam. Bam. Bam. A half hour later, he was joking with Bernard.
“I want to make it understood that this man is violent and dangerous. And unpredictable. I saw John hitting his son when I was at their house in Australia in January. He abused him physically. I know because I heard a big noise in the next room.”
John has been charged with assault after allegedly head-butting Drouet in front of the player hotel in Madrid. In court Monday, Tomic did not deny causing Drouet’s injuries but claimed he acted in self-defense after Drouet grabbed him by the arms. Another hearing is scheduled next Tuesday. If found guilty, Tomic could be fined and face up to three years in prison.
Drouet told L’Equipe that John’s fury had been simmering since the Tomic team was in Monaco preparing to leave for Madrid, where Tomic was scheduled to play. On the way to the airport in Nice, France, John erupted after Drouet refused to fetch him some milk. Tomic repeatedly threatened Drouet with termination and canceled Drouet’s flight to Madrid before Bernard intervened. The spat continued on the flight to Madrid and when the team arrived at the player hotel in Madrid. John summoned Drouet for a talk, led Drouet down the stairs and spat in his face, Drouet said. Drouet did nothing but wipe the spit off when John head-butted him, and he said he lost consciousness.
Throughout the interview, Drouet expressed sympathy for Bernard Tomic and the situation he has to manage with his father.
‘‘Bernard has been a victim of his father forever,” Drouet said. “Many times, I’ve heard Bernard tell John he didn’t want him on the court. After that, it’s difficult for Bernard because he’s only known this way of working. He’s a hostage and he’s developed Stockholm syndrome.’’
“I’m convinced he’s a good guy,” Drouet said of Bernard, who visited Drouet in the hospital and apologized for his father’s actions. “He told me: ‘I’m sorry. He went too far, It’s over. I don’t want him to come to tournaments anymore.’
“He needs help, too. That’s why I’m going to tell the whole story so the ATP and the ITF ban him. And the WTA have to do the same thing, because, if not, he’ll come on the circuit with his daughter.”
Questions are swirling as to whether John Tomic should get a lifetime ban and what this means for his son both personally and professionally. Under the tutelage of his father, Tomic, 20, has notched significantly better results than other players in his age group. In 2011, the 18-year-old became the youngest quarterfinalist at Wimbledon since Boris Becker won the title as a 17-year-old in 1986. He’s made the fourth round of the Australian Open and won his first ATP title in January. Despite those results, Tomic has struggled with consistency.
Speaking to The Australian, Australian Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, said Tomic’s inconsistency is understandable given the upheaval in his coaching team.
“When there’s so much instability going on in his camp with his coaches, trainers and managers coming and going and now this, it makes it really tough for him to be a consistent player,” Cash said. “The allegation of a scuffle is one thing, but this report of him being punched in the face at a practice court is just unbelievable. Nobody should put up with this.”
While a ban would effectively sever the coaching relationship between father and son, what effect will it have personally on the younger Tomic? In an interview with The Age, Neil Guiney, who coached Tomic from when he was 7 until he turned pro, said the involuntary break would be good for Tomic’s tennis but wonders whether it will create even more problems at home.
”It’s been a pretty rocky road all the way along, and it’s getting rockier, so it could be now Bernard will make the big break with John, which I think would be good, but heaven knows what will happen,” Guiney said. ”It’s a father-and-son situation, and Bernard’s more used to him than we are, but how he puts up with it, I don’t know.
”Often in a situation like this there’s a sort of a fear factor and whether Bernard’s got the courage to make the break or not, I don’t know. I just hope he’s strong enough to get out on his own and he’ll mature faster, I think, too. If it was me I’d have been gone years ago, let me put it that way.”
Guiney did go, several times, frustrated by John Tomic’s meddling, before eventually agreeing to return to help his young protege.
”I see that in lots of ways John’s done a good job – he’s got him on the court, and they’ve hit millions of balls, which is all very helpful, but John’s a guy that has no tennis background, and what happens is that in the end these sort of people get out of their depth, and the more they get out of their depth, the more frustrated they get, and so they’re more inclined to get overly emotional and start screaming and yelling and what have you,” Guiney said.
”John can be happy one minute, but then he starts raging around and he becomes disruptive and argumentative and very bossy, and it sort of destroys the whole atmosphere. I see it as a big question mark for Bernard if things stay as they are.”