Novak Djokovic has accused critics of subjecting him to a “witch-hunt” after his regional Adria Tour tennis event ended in a coronavirus fiasco and said he was still uncertain whether he would play at the US Open.
Images and videos of the players hugging at the net, playing basketball together and partying at the tournament were posted on social media. The world No 1 Djokovic, his fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric of Croatia 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, has hit back vehemently at peers and pundits who said he was irresponsible to stage the event amid the pandemic.
“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” Djokovic told Serbia’s daily newspaper Sportski Zurnal on Wednesday. “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 [which is scheduled from 31 August to 13 September], 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. Djokovic tested negative after the second test he took last week and, having conceded after the failed tournament that it came too soon, he reiterated that he had acted in good faith.
“My intention was pure, I was whole-heartedly 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 on 13-14 June 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 the Russian Andrey Rublev, was called off after Dimitrov tested positive for the virus. The remaining two legs in Montenegro and Bosnia were scrapped.
The post Novak Djokovic attacks ‘witch-hunt’ and casts doubt on US Open involvement appeared first on The Guardian.