In-control Djokovic restores some order at the top table
Anger elsewhere as Bernard Tomic’s father is banned from watching because of a pending court case
Bernard Tomic of Australia plays a forehand during his first round match against Sam Querry of the United States. Photograph: Getty
Early days in SW19 and compared to Monday’s raucous farewell to Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic restored some top table order. The number one seed entertained few doubts about his intentions and ability with a three set, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 win over Germany’s Florian Mayer.
Just under two hours puts ‘The Joker’ into round two, thankful that his ship is sailing in the right direction. At the same time as Djokovic lorded over Centre Court, out on Court Three Bernard Tomic, the great Australian hope was winning a five setter against America’s Sam Querry. But yesterday in the All England Club, everything wasn’t just about tennis.
In the players box Tomic was missing one of his team, his father and coach John, who has been banned from entering the championships. The court case of John Tomic has been adjourned until October after the man he allegedly assaulted declined to turn up for a hearing in Madrid.
Tomic was charged after allegedly head-butting his son’s training partner, Thomas Drouet, outside a hotel during the Madrid Open. Drouet said he was left with a broken nose and needed a temporary neck brace. Tomic claims he acted in self-defence after being provoked. But he has been barred from attending tennis tournaments while the case is being investigated.
Banned for two years
Not 50 metres away on Court Nine another match was taking place where American Wayne Odesnik was losing to Jimmy Wang from Taipei in five sets. The 27-year-old Odesnik was banned for two years in 2010 after trying to import human growth hormone (HGH) into Australia. In 2011 half his ban was suspended by the sport’s governing body, the International Tennis Federation, when he agreed to provide assistance. Fresh allegations have been made in a British newspaper against Odesnik, which he says are not true.
“This is old news. This is four years ago, guys. I mean, I’ve learned a lot from the things that have happened,” said Odesnik afterwards. “I’m doing the best that I can to move forward. I know this year I’ve been tested every single month.
“I’ve had an out of competition test on a regular basis, blood and urine, from USADA, ITF, as well and WADA. I’m giving my whereabouts to three different governing bodies. I’ve never missed an out of competition test. I’ve made myself available for all of that. I mean, I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m as clean as a whistle, so . . .”
Tomic came through his swinging match 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. From being in control he ran low on energy and just managed to hold out against the big serving Querry. Like Odesnik, Tomic arrived into his post match press conference angry that the only coach he has known in the sport was not allowed to support him. The Queens tournament had a more relaxed attitude and permitted his father to attend.
Tomic reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon in 2011 as an 18-year-old qualifier, losing to eventual champion Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. He was then the youngest player since Boris Becker in 1985 to reach the quarter-finals at the All England Club. At 20 years and eight months he is still the youngest player in this year’s men’s draw and ranked 59 in the world compared to a 27 ranking a year ago.
But Australia had settled on him as the future of tennis after he won the 2008 Australian Open junior title as a 15-year-old. Yesterday despite the win Tomic remained upset and bemused at the tennis world and particularly at his own union, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
“It’s very difficult to play a match, the biggest tournament we have in tennis, not to have your coach there or your father who has been there throughout your whole life,” said Tomic, pointing to what he sees as prejudice against his father as the case has not been resolved.
“I think the ATP did the wrong thing (banning John). Before post match we always get ATP people telling us what to say. I’m not going to hide and say . . . I’m not going to say false things. I’m going to say the truth of how I feel. I know the ATP are talking to Wimbledon. They’re basing their decision on not letting him come here ‘cause of the ATP. It’s all the ATP’s fault. I’m going to keep blaming them.”
Beneath the largely benign coverage and the tranquil personality of the tournament there are issues simmering underneath. Both Odesnik and Tomic will reappear in the coming weeks and months, Tomic perhaps over the next few days for his tennis. Djokovic? He’s laughing. He’s through and so is Spain’s David Ferrer, the fourth seed, who beat Argentine, Martin Alund 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
“Felt pretty good. For the opening match of the grass court season, it was a very satisfying performance,” said Djokovic. That’s what you’d expect to hear in the first week of Wimbledon.