Djokovic accuses critics of ‘witch-hunt’ over Adria Tour fiasco

Tournament scrapped after world number one and others tested positive for Covid-19

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic wins against German Alexander Zverev during their Adria Tour match in Belgrade on June 14th. Photograph: Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic wins against German Alexander Zverev during their Adria Tour match in Belgrade on June 14th. Photograph: Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

 

Novak Djokovic has accused critics of subjecting him to a “witch-hunt” after his regional Adria Tour tennis event ended in a novel coronavirus fiasco, and said he was still uncertain whether he would play at the US Open, which takes place from August 31st to September 13th.

Images and videos of the players hugging at the net, playing basketball together and partying at the tournament were posted on social media.

World number one Djokovic, fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Croatian Borna Coric all tested positive for the virus and the event had to be called off.

Djokovic, who tested positive for Covid-19 after the Adria Tour’s second leg in Croatia, pulled no punches in slamming his peers and pundits who said he was irresponsible to stage the event amid the pandemic.

We’ve learned our lessons and some things could have probably been done in a different way

“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” Djokovic told Wednesday’s issue of Serbia’s daily Sportski Zurnal.

“It’s obviously more than just criticism, it’s like an agenda and a witch-hunt are on. Someone has to take the fall, a big name.

“I still haven’t decided whether I will play in the US Open. The upsurge in registered Covid-19 cases in the United States and New York in particular are not playing into the event’s hands,” added Djokovic, who was back in training on Tuesday with Troicki.

Good faith

Djokovic tested negative after the second test he took last week and, having conceded after the failed tournament that it came to soon, he reiterated that he had acted in good faith.

“My intention was pure, I was wholeheartedly committed to organising a humanitarian event to help players and tennis federations in the [Balkan] region,” he said.

“We complied with all the laws and regulations. But we’ve learned our lessons and some things could have probably been done in a different way.”

The first leg in Belgrade, held on June 13th and 14th with no social distancing rules in place, drew a sell-out 4,000 crowd and as many fans turned up in Zadar’s Visnjik tennis complex with a capacity of 9,000 a week later.

Fans in Zadar were ordered by the Croatian government to stay two metres apart but the final, due to feature Djokovic and Russian Andrey Rublev, was called off after Dimitrov tested positive for the virus.

The remaining two legs, in Montenegro and Bosnia, were scrapped.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.