Bernard Tomic's father could face a prison sentence after a court in Madrid on Monday heard details of a physical confrontation with a member of the Australian world No 53's back-room team. John Tomic, who coaches his son, said he had butted Thomas Drouet in the face in self-defence after the pair had clashed in a street in the centre of the Spanish capital, where Bernard has been competing in this week's Madrid Open.
Drouet, Bernard's hitting partner, arrived at the hearing with a large dressing fixed to his nose with white surgical tape and a neck support. Tomic Snr, a controversial figure who has had frequent run-ins with the tennis establishment, had a small cut above his right eye.
Carmen Dieguez, Tomic's lawyer, told reporters there had been rising tensions between him and Drouet in recent weeks. She said that Tomic did not dispute that he had caused Drouet's injuries, but had been forced to butt him after the Frenchman had grabbed him by the arms and the move was in self-defence.
With Tomic disputing a charge of causing bodily harm, it was decided after consultation with the judge that the hearing could not take place. A further court appearance for the pair has been scheduled for next Tuesday.
Drouet said afterwards that he would consider continuing to work with Bernard Tomic as long as his father was not on the coaching team, while John Tomic told reporters: "I don't feel guilty. I didn't do anything wrong."
The Herald Sun newspaper in Australia quoted Drouet as saying that John Tomic had treated him like a "dog" for years and that he had punched his son in the mouth at a training session last week, leaving him in tears. Drouet said that shortly before the head-butting incident John Tomic had told him he was sacked and would not be getting paid. He said that Tomic had spat in his face and then head-butted him.