Marion Bartoli, who missed out on getting former Eastbourne champion Amelie Mauresmo as coach, has hired Thomas Drouet as her practice partner.
Drouet, who was the hitting partner of Bernard Tomic before he suffered a broken nose and compounded vertebrae in an allegedly unprovoked head-butt outside a hotel during the 2013 Madrid Open by Tomic’s father John, begins his new role for the French Open.
Bartoli, the highest ranked French player on the WTA Tour, has struggled for form ever since her initial split from her father.
And she has returned to working with her father after two coaches in as many months failed to improve her game, partly due to her unorthodox style that has long been frowned upon by the French Tennis Federation.
Bartoli was aiming to find a suitable coach in a bid to win a Grand Slam title and wanted Mauresmo, who is excelling in charge of the French Federation Cup, because she had reached the coveted world no1 status and won majors during a highly successful career.
But Bartoli, the 2011 AEGON International champion, has an aggressive game that is suited to grass and has finished runner-up at Wimbledon.
The forthcoming grass court season will be a golden opportunity for Bartoli to get back on track and leap back into the world’s top 10 if she can – as expected – pull off impressive results at Eastbourne and SW19.