Youngsters Stephens/Tomic Up Against the Wall as French Open Looms

Michael Ann McKinlayContributor IIIMay 8, 2013

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14:  Bernard Tomic of Australia serves against Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine in their first round match during day one of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters, at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club  on April 14, 2013 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This past weekend, Sloane Stephens and Bernard Tomic ruled the tennis headlines with their offcourt activities. 

For Stephens, a recent ESPN The Magazine interview came out Sunday, where Stephens criticized Serena Williams for not being more of a friend/mentor to her. 

“She’s not said one word to me, not spoken to me, not said hi, not looked my way, not been in the same room with me since I played her in Australia,” Stephens said in the interview. “And that should tell everyone something, how she went from saying all these nice things about me to unfollowing me on Twitter.” 

Since then, Sloane has tweeted her apology to Williams, saying: 

Guilty of being naive. Much respect 4 @serenawilliams , a champ & the GOAT. We spoke, we're good. ONWARD! #lifelessons

— Sloane Stephens (@sloanetweets) May 7, 2013

 

Williams also responded since the interview was published, saying she admires Stephens and wishes her the best in her future career. 

Tomic, on the other hand, has a much more serious issue on his hands, as his dad and coach, John Tomic is facing charges after assaulting Bernard’s hitting partner, Thomas Drouet outside of their Madrid hotel (via Tennis.com).

The court hearing will be on May 14, as Tennis Australia and the ATP tour are looking into the incident. Drouet suffered a broken nose, split upper eyelid and damage to his neck from the whiplash he experienced. 

Drouet also told reporters that John Tomic punched Bernard in the face last week during a practice session.

“I witnessed it,” Drouet said via Tennis.com. “He hit him in the head with his fist. Bernard bled from the mouth around the lips and teeth. Blood was dripping on the court.”

Whatever the outcome, some major changes will be coming to the Tomic camp.

And to just think, five months ago at the Australian Open there were very different stories being written. Bernard was undefeated heading into his third-round clash against Roger Federer, after nabbing his first ATP title in Sydney and Stephens was making her way into her first Grand Slam semifinal. Both players looked as if they were headed to a breakthrough 2013 season. Instead, it all went downhill, fast. 

It begs the question, are Stephens and Bernard in trouble as the second Grand Slam approaches? 

The short answer is yes, and this weekend’s dealings didn’t help the fact that they both lost in the opening round at the Madrid Masters. Stephens has a dismal 3-7 win/loss record since Australia, and Bernard is not much better, with a 7-8 record since his hot start Down Under.  

As far as the French Open, Stephens is defending a fourth-round showing and will obviously need to play better tennis to defend those points. The 20-year-old is struggling with her confidence and really needs more match play before the French Open.

The only silver lining for Stephens is that Roland Garros was her breakthrough tournament, reaching her first Grand Slam second week appearance, and she can reignite the magic from last year. Stephens needs a good showing in Rome next week to improve her French Open chances. 

For Bernard, his head coach position is most likely vacant (assuming his father is found guilty), and a new voice in his camp could be the solution to his slumping game.

Tennis.com reported that Tennis Australia is willing to help Bernard find a replacement coach. 

Also, Bernard’s better days might come a month later on the grass. His game is suited for faster surfaces and did reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon two years ago. As for the French Open, he only reached the second round, and with his current ranking of 53, much isn’t expected of him for the remainder of the clay season. 

Whatever the case maybe, these next-generation stars hope to put this past weekend’s news away and let their tennis do the talking for the next couple of weeks.