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.
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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 at 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.