Tomic’s father charged with assault

The father of Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic has been

charged with assaulting his son’s hitting partner after allegedly

headbutting Thomas Drouet ahead of this week’s Madrid Open.

A Madrid court said Monday that John Tomic, who is also his

son’s coach, disputed the charges and will face trial on May

14.

Drouet, of Monaco, told Australian newspaper the Herald Sun that

John Tomic headbutted him on Saturday during a scuffle outside the

player hotel. Drouet said he has been verbally abused for months by

the elder Tomic and that the two had been arguing over whether he

should continue to get paid as a training partner.

”He spat in my face, then walked away, and said he wouldn’t pay

me anymore,” Drouet was quoted as saying. ”I said, `OK, John, you

are a real man. That’s fine. Bernard will pay me’. And he

headbutted me.”

Drouet added that ”every day he treat me like a dog for six

months, with disrespect and then this.”

The newspaper published pictures on its website of Drouet with

his nose heavily bandaged and wearing a neck brace.

At a hearing Monday, the court said it could not hold an

immediate trial because John Tomic disputed the facts laid out by

the prosecution. Under Spanish law, a speedy trial can be held if

both sides agree on the facts and can lead to reduced

penalties.

Tennis Australia said it was working with the ATP tour in

investigating the incident.

The 53rd-ranked Tomic lost in straight sets to Radek Stepanek in

the first round on Sunday. The 20-year-old Tomic has been seen as

Australia’s most promising player, but his short career has been

filled with controversy.

His year got off a good start with a win over No. 1-ranked Novak

Djokovic at the Hopman Cup and his first ATP tournament victory at

the Sydney International.

However, it came at a time when he had a falling out with Davis

Cup captain Pat Rafter, who suspended Tomic from playing in

Australia’s opening match of the year against Taiwan. Tomic has

since returned to the Australian team and won two matches in

Australia’s second-round Asia Oceania victory over Uzbekistan in

April.

In March, Tomic lost 6-3, 6-1 to Andy Murray at Miami and was

jeered by spectators for his lackluster performance as his record

fell to 2-15 against top 10 opponents.

Rafter had criticized Tomic when the Australian faced

accusations at the U.S. Open in September that he ”tanked,” or

deliberately lost, a match against American Andy Roddick.

In November, Tomic was fined $1,750 and put on a 12-month

good-behavior bond after facing a Gold Coast court over four

driving charges resulting from twice being stopped by police in

January.

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

Tomic.