The father of Australia's top-ranked tennis player Bernard Tomic said yesterday he was acting in self-defence when he headbutted his son's training partner and broke his nose in the Spanish capital.
John Tomic denied a charge of assault against Thomas Drouet in a brawl outside a hotel where players at the Madrid Masters were staying. A court in Madrid set a May 14 hearing for a judge to decide his guilt or innocence. "I don't feel guilty. I did not do anything wrong," John Tomic said of the fight.
John Tomic struck his son's training partner with his head only because his own arms were being held by Drouet and he had to protect himself from falling over, his lawyer said.
Bernard Tomic's father, who is also his coach, was arrested several hours after the fight and was jailed for a period before being released, police said earlier.
The player has made a poor start to this year's European clay-court season and lost in straight sets to Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in the first round of the Madrid Masters.
Todd Woodbridge, the head of men's tennis for Tennis Australia, said: "We're still trying to ascertain if or what charges have been laid. What's important for us at Tennis Australia is that this allegation is thrown towards John, his dad, and not to Bernard."
In France, L'Equipe newspaper said Drouet, from Monaco, sustained a broken nose, stitches to a cut above his eye and bruising to the back of his neck.
L'Equipe quoted Bernard Tomic as saying that he had been with his physical trainer at the time of the incident and had seen or heard nothing. "It's a very odd situation," he was quoted as saying by the paper. "I wanted to talk to Thomas, but he was in hospital. I haven't seen my father since then."
Bernard Tomic, ranked 49th, has created more headlines off the court than on it, including run-ins with police in his sports car and claims he was not trying hard enough.
The 20-year-old recently was recalled to Australia's Davis Cup team after captain Patrick Rafter disciplined him for a lack of professionalism following admissions that he gave less than full effort in matches at New York and Shanghai last year.
Tomic won both his singles matches and clinched victory for Australia in their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group One second-round tie against Uzbekistan last month.