December 4, 2013 / 4:44 AM / 5 years ago

Tomic links up with Croatian coach during dad's ban

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian number one Bernard Tomic has appointed Croatian Velimir Zovko as his new co-coach while his father John serves the remainder of a ban for assaulting his former training partner.

Australia's Bernard Tomic hits a return to Feliciano Lopez of Spain during the opening round match of the Paris Masters men's singles tennis tournament at the Palais Omnisports of Bercy in Paris October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Tomic, currently ranked 51st in the world, said he would continue to be coached by his father away from tournaments as he targets a rise into the top 20 this year.

“This guy will be more there on court, spending more hours with me,” the 21-year-old told Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

“My dad will sort of be less, but obviously my dad knows me best, and if he sees something that’s obviously wrong or mistaken then they’ll have a talk about it outside of tennis.

“He’s from Croatia, he speaks my language, and it’s very important for me to have a good communication, someone that understands me, my background, because it’s not easy - I’m a difficult sort of guy,” Tomic added.

Former taxi driver John Tomic was sentenced to eight months in prison by a Spanish court in September for head-butting Frenchman Thomas Drouet and breaking his nose.

Tomic was not required to serve jail time because his sentence was under two years in length.

The ATP decided last year to withhold his accreditation for all tour events and will consider whether to lift the ban next May.

His son, long-touted as the great hope for Australian men’s tennis and a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2011, made headlines in Australia recently after being pictured celebrating his 21st birthday in a Gold Coast nightclub.

Tomic has recently moved his base from Queensland, however, and will work with former Croatian Olympic team coach Zovko at the National Tennis Centre in Melbourne.

“From what I’ve heard, he’s disciplined, it’s something what I need, and it’s obviously something new. I’m looking forward,” Tomic said.

“I can’t say what he can bring, but obviously I’m going to pick it up throughout the weeks as they go by and hopefully it can work out.”

Tomic will start his season at the Hopman Cup team event in Perth before defending his maiden ATP title at the Sydney International in the week before the Australian Open, which starts on January 13.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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