Tomic’s hitting partner calls for father ban

The father of Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic was barred
Tuesday from being accredited to upcoming ATP events pending an
investigation into allegations that he assaulted his son’s training
partner ahead of this week’s Madrid Open.

John Tomic was charged with assault after allegedly head-butting
the hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, on Saturday outside the player
hotel in Madrid.

”Following last week’s incident in Madrid concerning John
Tomic, and the ensuing investigation, Mr. Tomic’s credential
privileges have been suspended at all ATP tournaments until further
notice,” the men’s tour said in a statement. ”The ATP’s
investigation into this incident remains on-going.”

Drouet had called for the elder Tomic to be banned from all tour
events in an interview published in Tuesday’s issue of French
sports daily L’Equipe.

”I want to help Bernard forbid his father from having access to
tournaments,” Drouet said. ”I want him to be banned from the ATP
and the WTA.

”He is a dangerous person, who has nothing to do in this sport
of gentlemen.”

A Madrid court said Monday that John Tomic disputed the charges
and will face trial May 14.

Drouet, of Monaco, also said he saw the elder Tomic hit his son
last week.

”John hit his son on the court, while we were training in
Monaco,” Drouet said. ”He punched him in the face. Blood was
dripping from his mouth onto the court. Tuesday, he attacks his
son, Saturday me, what’s next?”

It is not the first time John Tomic has reacted violently toward
his son, according to Drouet.

”I already saw John punch his son when I was in their house in
Australia in January,” he said. ”He mistreated him physically. I
know it because I heard a big noise in the room next door. It was
pretty clear.”

Drouet said the incident in Madrid stemmed from an earlier
altercation at Nice airport when John Tomic screamed him for not
getting some milk. Drouet said he yelled back, and that Tomic
replied: ”Get out of my way. If not, I will punch your head
in.”

”John canceled my ticket, then went to tell Bernard that I had
pushed him in front of the house this morning,” Drouet said.
”Bernard told his dad, `You are lying, I believe Thomas. He’s
coming to Madrid with me.”’

Drouet described the incident at the Madrid hotel, saying John
Tomic led him to an isolated place to talk before spitting in his
face.

”I think he was waiting for me to hit first,” he said. ”I
didn’t move. And then, he gave me a big head-butt. I collapsed. I
called one time for help, I was a bit convulsed and I lost
consciousness.

”It’s Josko (the team physio), who, seeing John return alone,
got worried. He found me on the ground covered in blood. John left
me like that. On the ground, bloodied and unconscious.”

L’Equipe published a photo of Drouet with his nose heavily
bandaged and wearing a neck brace.

John Tomic has claimed he was acting in self-defense. Drouet
said that at Monday’s hearing, Tomic’s lawyer came to him and said
”he admits everything.” But when Tomic found out that Drouet
would demand more than the $4,000 permitted under that
jurisdiction, ”John said he was innocent. He’s insane. A perverse
manipulator.”

Bernard Tomic, who lost in straight sets to Radek Stepanek on
Sunday, reportedly said he had been with his physical trainer at
the time of the incident and had seen or heard nothing.

According to Drouet, Bernard Tomic came to see him and
apologized, saying his father ”went too far.”

Drouet also claimed John Tomic forced him to do all kinds of
work which had nothing to do with his tennis job, such as bringing
Bernard orange juice in his room every morning. Drouet said several
people advised him to quit but ”I’m divorced, I have a son, a loan
to pay off.”

”And now?” he said. ”I am still in shock. I left everything
to work with the Tomics. I have no work now. Nothing. I earned a
little money modeling, but now, with this face… ”

Tennis Australia is working with the ATP tour in investigating
the incident.

The 20-year-old Bernard Tomic has been seen as Australia’s most
promising player, but his short career has been filled with
controversy.

In November, he was fined and put on a 12-month good-behavior
bond after twice being stopped by police for driving offenses.

In late October, police were called to a high-rise apartment
building in the Australian resort city of Surfers Paradise after
residents saw two men, one of them naked, wrestling and fighting in
a hot tub on the balcony. One of the men was later identified as
Bernard Tomic.

Tennis also has a history of disruptive or abusive fathers.

Jelena Dokic’s father and former coach has been banned
indefinitely from all WTA Tour events after a series of public
indiscretions, including accusing Australian Open organizers of
fixing the 2001 tournament draw. Damir Dokic also spent time in
jail for threatening the life of the Australian ambassador to
Belgrade and illegally possessing two bombs and other weapons.

Former French Open champion Mary Pierce successfully applied for
a restraining order against her father Jim. He was ejected from the
French Open in 1993 after he punched a spectator and was
subsequently banned from the WTA Tour.

His behavior prompted the WTA to introduce a new rule, commonly
known as the ”Jim Pierce rule,” banning a player’s disruptive
family members or coaches from attending tournaments.

Mary Pierce, who hired a bodyguard, pulled out of Wimbledon in
1994 after her father told a newspaper he intended to defy the
ban.

The father of retired great Steffi Graf was sentenced to four
years in prison after being convicted of tax evasion on more than
$6 million of his daughter’s earnings. Peter Graf was released
after serving nearly half the term.

Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to
this report.