Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Drouet Diaries Part 2

The second part of Thomas Drouet's diary was posted today in the Australian press. It's not easy reading.

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Picture: ELLA PELLEGRINI Source: News Limited

I HAVE been many months with the team now and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. There are good days and bad days but mostly unpredictable days with John Tomic regularly blowing a fuse and yelling at all of us.

It's hard for me but I want it to work in the team. We want Bernard to succeed and he is a good guy but it's difficult. John doesn't pay me enough and sometimes I even have to pay excess baggage on flights even though I am carrying Bernard's things. But I continue with them.
Then the worst news, my only real friend in the team Salvador Sosa tells me he is leaving after Miami. He can't stand the humiliations anymore and the screaming. John doesn't let him work the way he wants, John doesn't let him do what he wants and then reproaches him for things related to Bernard's physical condition.

Salva told me he has had enough of all of them. "I can't do this with them anymore," he told me. He said: "Twenty-five years in this tennis world and this is the first time I see something like this".

I feel alone, lost, with Salva leaving.

He has been my confidante and we helped each other because it was very hard for both of us every day. I just have to try and remember what he told me about keeping on going, being patient and staying calm but it is more and more difficult because I am doing more and more things for the team. Book flight tickets, play with Bernard, give him drinks, give him his tablets, prepare his protein, carry his orange juice for him every morning, book practice courts, string rackets, make the booking for flights for all the team. It is more and more difficult.

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.

For John I think it is a control thing too.

I remember when we were at the Gold Coast right at the start of this, John would cut off the internet at home so that we couldn't use it. I thought it was strange. He didn't want to give us the password so we could use the internet. We did get it but only via Bernard's sister Sara. It was a control thing.

John saw that between Bernard, Salva and me it was like a team within the team. That's what I think now and why when we were in Marseille he disappeared was because he wanted to cut the link, he wanted to make Bernard think things were going wrong with us because he is not there. He wanted to make out we were losers.

It was the same even when I am not around. When we are at Monte Carlo, I sleep in my own house, not in their house like at the Gold Coast or with them together in a hotel. So John has no power over me like when we are in a hotel and he rings me every two minutes, just all the time, any hour to go here, do this, go there. When I am at home, he knows I am with Sophie. This one time he rang us at home during dinner and tells me to go to him and pick up the rackets for the stringer the next morning. I tell him "but John there is no problem, I can collect tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, there is no problem and I am having dinner with my family" and he said "no take it now, take it now". So there I go. I think he doesn't like having less power and wants this constant control.


There is a new guy starting, Josko Sillic who has worked with them before and will now replace Salva. I have to take care of his flight and pick him up from the airport. John initially says he isn't coming to Monte Carlo and then turns up anyway and insults me for not picking him up at the airport. John is just very tense. For me though less is requested because I am at home.

We train well as a team even though every morning at 8am John blows a fuse.

One players' evening someone does a sketch about the "incredible Tomic father" and everyone one makes fun of him. John actually gets into fits of laughter but he won't be talking to the guy who did the sketch anymore.

The yelling continues. The other players and coaches can see how I have been treated in the past six months, most ask me how I can stand it. It's a fair question. I tell them that I can find strength because I have a partner and kids (Sophie has two children aged 13 and nine and I have a son Timothe aged four) and a house to pay. I also want to hold on until the end of the season if I can because I want to become better known on the circuit.

Not a good time. Bernard is defeated in the first round of Monte Carlo Masters by Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-4.


Without John. What more can I say, mood is good. Bernard has an infected hair on his thigh but wins his first match against Kenny De Schepper in three set thriller. Goes on into second round against Juan Monaco from Argentina.

The next day Bernard doesn't play well and is defeated by Monaco 6-0, 6-2 in less than 50 minutes.

Josko is there with us in Barcelona and Bernard says after dinner if he can leave us to talk to me alone. I'm wondering what it's all about but then he shows me a YouTube video of some man telling a story about how to become successful and self-improvement. It was like a motivational video. It was so honest a moment to see Bernard show me this. I tell Bernard he can do this but he has to work harder if he wants to be successful and at the top of his game. "It cannot just be on your talent," I say as I tell him about my experiences playing with Rafael Nadal who so impressed me with his professionalism and rigour. He says "yeah you are right from now on I am going to practice every day, every day". I am really happy. I think maybe we find the solution and he is evolving. After an hour and a half of really honest talk he suddenly says "Okay Thomas now we go and party together and drink a lot to cement and celebrate these good words and we can start again on a healthy basis." I tell him "no, now we go to the arms of Morpheus, celebrate in Morpheus' arms", meaning we go to sleep.

Bernard just looks at me blankly and asks "who is Morpheus?". He thinks it is a girl at the tournament.


On the Monday before Madrid we are doing hard training for five minutes but Bernard is not listening to his father and John suddenly stops the training session. "Practice finish!" he yells. He tells me to leave the court and Bernard trains alone.

On the Tuesday we are on Court 10 and it is the same thing, John stops the training session this time 10 minutes in after Bernard tells him "you can sit on the bench, but don't talk, you don't give any advice, I don't need you".

John again says that practice is over and tells me to put my rackets in the bag. Bernard tells me to stay but John again tells me practice is over. I'm standing there not sure what to do. John tells Bernard if he doesn't want to listen then he will not play. Bernard comes to the net and John is screaming at him and Bernard answers back and tells him again to sit on the bench and not talk.

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. My God, these people, it's crazy. Josko is picking up the balls and doesn't seem to see anything. I want to help Bernard because I can see the tears and he isn't saying anything and I really want to help him. I remember in Marseille I did tell him "you have to tell your father it's finished" and for me maybe no more tournaments, but it's not possible to see this all the time anymore. I can see even for Bernard he is stressed all the time because he never knows how John is going to react. I have seen so much of this now, almost six months and I am really sad for Bernard because inside I think he wants to do something but he can't. When he says to John "no you sit on the bench and not talk to me" you can see he is trying to say stop but John is manipulating him all the time.

Yes I broke Salva's rule not to get involved between father and son. In the beginning I just try to show him the way but don't say anything but then when I saw the punch I couldn't hold it in anymore. I tell Bernard "I know it's your father but do something you can't let this go on".

John was very nervous in Monte Carlo already thinking Bernard might tell him to go. Tension in the team is high.


On the morning of our departure for Madrid I drop by Bernard's to help John pack up his suitcases to avoid what had happened in Marseille. John is at the window and says "we don't need you, go buy some milk" and I answer "no we are going to be late".

Sophie must drive John and I to the airport because he doesn't want to pay for a taxi while Bernard and Josko are driven by a friend of Bernard's to the airport in Nice.

I arrive at the Tomics' place with Sophie at 10.20am.

At 10.40am John comes over to the car, mad with anger and insults me saying "why didn't you go buy some milk, why didn't you come upstairs to pick up my suitcases". Right there, humiliated in front of my girlfriend, I get out of the car and stand up to him and tell him that I can't stand him talking this way to me anymore. He treats me like a dog.

He blows a fuse, tells me I am not going to Madrid, that I am fired, that he won't pay me. Seeing that, my girlfriend gets out of the car, and says to him "so you made me come here, I have better things to do, my kids are home alone so get in the car now".

He goes off to phone someone and I wait five minutes to let things cool down. I take his suitcase and put them in the boot. Luckily it's a short drive to the airport.

Then a scandal at the airport's Terminal 1 and everyone is shocked by John as he starts again screaming at me and saying he is cancelling my ticket. After 10 minutes I go back to the car but I want to say to John what I think of him to him.

We finally take off but John starts again verbally abusing me on the plane. It's incredible.

"Okay we will sort this out physically in Madrid because you won't be in your country this time and we will see if you are that clever and outspoken," he says to me.

We make our way to the hotel in central Madrid. In front of the hotel John asks me to put my bag down and to follow him outside. We walk to the side of the hotel. I thought he was going to say sorry for the verbal abuse. He looks around all the time which I think is weird. There is no-one around. 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.

He then continues walking back into the hotel reception as if nothing has happened. I am told later I am out unconscious for a few minutes and when I come too Josko is there as well as Alexadr Dolgopolov the tennis player. Someone has called police and an ambulance.

I am taken to a hospital in Madrid. It's all very confusing. I don't speak Spanish and I am there for six hours and they do tests, give me stitches to the nose but there is a pain in my cervical vertebrae that has me very worried.

Bernard comes to see me at the hospital with Josko, and tells me that his father has gone too far, and that he will put him on the plane the next day, and that he no longer wants the presence of his father by his side. He said he wants to be alone in the team with just Josko and me. I go to police later and file a complaint until 2am. The next day at breakfast there is a change of attitude and Bernard tells me that if I sue his father, he will be on his side and they can afford to pay for lawyers whereas I can't. He's probably right there.

The next day and we are all at court. I am alone, lost, no lawyer. My nose is taped up and I have a brace on my neck. Outside the courtroom John's lawyer tries to negotiate. There is talk of 3000 euros compensation. I refuse and John later backs off and argues self-defence.

I get an SMS message from Bernard who says he is sorry and he is sad for what has happened. I am surprised by the message, then another, then a third from Bernard, saying he wants to meet with me and my girlfriend in Monaco. As I get off the plane in Nice to make the drive to Monaco, Josko calls me and tells me "whatever you do don't go to this meeting, it's a set up, John is manipulating Bernard and (John) wants you to blow a fuse. I don't go to the meeting, no more news from Bernard.

I return to Monaco and have further tests, scans, seeing specialists, sports consultants and everything is more serious than I originally thought. I have a whole written report about the injuries. It's not good reading.

I am depressed now and I know I am not eating. I have lost five kilos in two weeks. Obviously there is no more work for me.

I decide to go to Roland Garros for the French Open and see if I can find a job. I read a story in L'Equipe newspaper about Marion Bartoli not having a coach and hitting partner. It would be a good to get a job with her team. She is fantastic.

At Roland Garros John is banned from the stadium grounds and when he tries to get in he is sent off.

Later at Eastbourne I come across John. I feel uneasy, I am fearful, I look behind me every 30 seconds. I tell the ATP and they give me a bodyguard to follow me discreetly from a distance. He is supposed to be banned but is here.


John is suspended for at least a year by the ATP from attending future tournaments.

One evening I am walking and stop by the local Starbucks. At this point I don't know about the decision of the ATP. There I am on the phone and I can feel someone pushing the chair in front of me and sitting at my table. It's Bernard. He wants to talk to me. I am fearful and instinctively look behind me to see if John is there too. Bernard tells me he is unhappy with the ATP's decision and that the ATP should protect him. I think I am completely imagining this and ask him if he realises what his father has done. He has already forgotten that a month and a half ago I was laying on the ground in Madrid unconscious and covered in blood because of his father.

He apologises once more for what his father has done, but tells me it's his father and he loves him.

I tell him "OK you are allowed to love your father but at least admit to his mistakes". He agrees and he asks me how it is going with Bartoli. It is fantastic. I love working with her and her team. They are so professional and I realise this is how it should be. She is a wonderful tennis player, she listens and is always trying her hardest to improve her game. She has a fantastic attitude and outlook.

I just tell him it's fine. Then we shake hands goodbye, and I wish him good luck for the tournament. I feel he is relieved that he has come to speak to me and received a non-aggressive reaction. He seems relaxed.

I am carrying on with Marion and I think we work well together, peacefully and joyfully. She is a smart girl, lovely, and a hard worker ... it's a big change compared to what I was used to before. Her efforts and talent see her win through to the finals. I am being interviewed by the press for positive reasons now and not what happened with the Tomics. Marion wins the title. I could not be happier.

For seven months with the Tomics and almost every day it was like a nightmare. I am glad I have kept a diary because people don't know. I couldn't stand any more how he spoke to me. He had no respect for me. I think the worst thing for me was every day when I woke up I tried to do my best for Bernard and even with this he did not have respect, not one time "oh that's good", nothing. The more I did my job the less he paid me and the less respect he had for me. I would manage 90% of Bernard's daily schedule, John only came to the court to yell and tell his son he was a good for nothing.

I wish Bernard the best.

End Notes

There is no doubt that to many, lets say most readers, the story Mr. Drouet tells about what is going on around Bernard Tomic and why he's underperformed despite being a very talented player is disturbing. You can include shocking and disgusting too.

But there are those who seem to think this behavior is okay. As with anything on the net you have to take comments with a grain of salt because you don't really know who the person is and what interests he represents.

There are those who take a sociological approach and talk about cultural mores in Eastern Europe specifically in the Balkans. Others see nothing wrong with John Tomic trying to turn a hitting partner into a glorified servant there to do all the things a manager or coach is responsible for.

Tomic's behavior is excused by both Drouet and some of the seemingly self appointed defenders of the Tomic's. His lack of discipline is seen as part of growing up not as making it difficult for him to compete with the top players who for the most part are disciplined.

Drouet's comments about his tenure with Marion Bartoli are revealing since many fans considered her a bit of a flake.

Some are asking why Drouet would publish his diary. Could it be that he was afraid something would happen, that he would be accused of doing something after being provoked and needed something to document what happened? So far he hasn't made a statement.

It's easy for people to say he should've just quit but when dealing with someone like John Tomic even that becomes problematic. Drouet wanted to establish his bona fides in the tennis world and the way to do it was to take on a permanent position with a player. He wanted to care for his family and felt that the way to success was latching on to a star.

It's going to be interesting to see what reaction comes from Australian tennis sources. Again, I won't hold my breath.

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