Bernard Tomic‘s (Player Profile) former hitting partner Thomas Drouet has made the news recently due to his diaries with news.com.au that detail the antics of Tomic and his father John over the past year. This comes shortly after John was handed a suspended eight month sentence for the assault of Drouet after headbutting him in Madrid and rendering him unconscious.
While John Tomic was no stranger to controversy, the diaries give an extraordinary insight of the situation while not portraying Bernard in a great light either although the situation appears extremely volatile. In part one, it begins with John wanting to pay Drouet and the rest of the team less money – even after Bernard’s first title on the tour in Sydney.
Drouet provides some insight into Tomic’s disappointing post-Australia Open performance – he returns clearly unfit back to the European indoor swing and finds himself on the end of a three set defeat to Grigor Dimitrov in Rotterdam having only trained for five days in between the two tournaments.
The relationship between father and son has always been an odd one but Bernard has so far refused to break from his father as coach despite many believing that would be best for his career. The same week of the Dimitrov loss, a fallout sees Bernard threaten to let him go as coach. It fails to happen though, a situation that Drouet and fitness coach Salvador Sosa appear disappointed by but refuse to make their views clear to avoid a further rift.
Tomic has had a reputation for giving a lack of effort when faced with a fight but it appears this attitude is not just resigned to actual matches. In Miami, he was organised for a practice match with a practice match with Kei Nishikori but it isn’t quite what the Japanese had in mind.
Bernard is supposed to train with Kei Nishikori but turns it into a scandal. He doesn’t want to play with him, so he tanks it. They are doing this practice to find their rhythm, but Bernard just whacks it back, and he loses 6-1 in 10 minutes. Nishikori is really pissed off.
His coach tells me after we will never want to play with him again. Bernard doesn’t like to practice with other tournament players.
Part two begins with mentioning how Sosa is leaving the team as he has had enough of the treatment from the Tomic’s leaving Drouet on his own. Bernard’s fitness had remained an issue but due to matters out of Sosa’s hands. Although Bernard realises his father was often out of order, he finds it difficult to keep both parties happy.
Bernard does some stupid things but he is young. But most of the time, behind his father, he has tried to protect me and Salva. Each time after his father screams at us or whatever he would come to us and say “no, okay I like you guys, it’s good, I’m good with you, don’t worry”. When he was doing this, it was good but sometimes Bernard was nervous when John attacks me and Salva. John I think thinks it is three against one. This is why he loses control. Maybe Bernard worries about this perception too.
Drouet’s treatment is well known to other players and coaches on tour who wonder how he copes but he defends this by claiming he wants job security to support his partner and their kids. The clay swing comes round and Tomic disappoints as usual with one sided defeats to Alexandr Dolgopolov and Juan Monaco in Monte Carlo and Barcelona respectively.
It all builds up to Madrid where the headbutt happens. A bad training session the day before departure for the Spanish capital sees Bernard get upset with John and ask him to sit out the session. This doesn’t go down well as John tries to put a stop to the session and things escalate.
John is furious and then – pow! One punch. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, right there just in front of me. Bernard doesn’t say anything but has tears in his eyes. John walks away and rests two rackets on an angle against the wall then snaps his foot down on them breaking them. Crack, crack – breaks both rackets and tells Bernard that he doesn’t play tournaments now for three weeks and tells me to cancel all the flight tickets. Bernard sees this and then breaks his racket.
Yet another dispute on the day they leave for Madrid leaves Drouet humiliated in front of his girlfriend and this gives him the courage to stand up to John and tell him how he feels. The same situation occurs when they arrive in Madrid at the hotel and the attack occurs which eventually leaves Drouet wearing a neck brace.
He tells me “tell me again what you said this morning”. I tell him again about how he thinks he is such a “big man, a real man but okay John that’s fine Bernard will pay me to be his partner”. He spits in my face. I wipe the spit away as he walks away and I tell him again what a big man he is and he suddenly turns and head butts me. I remember yelling help as I fall.
The eventual court case leads to the ATP making a decision to ban John Tomic from stadium grounds but he is spotted at Eastbourne when Drouet is working with a new player in Marion Bartoli, being part of the Frenchwoman’s team that helped her to the Wimbledon title.
There is no doubt that Bernard comes off poorly in these diaries but also that he is stuck between what is best for his career and a family bond that is hard to break – even if his father’s actions are highly suspect. It would be a shame if his talent goes to waste due to personal issues.