Novak Djokovic: A 7 days to neglect for earth No. 1 just after exhibition tennis fiasco

Novak Djokovic: A week to forget for world No. 1 after exhibition tennis fiasco

In its place, the leading-ranked Serb is included in a problems limitation exercising just after his exhibition tour in the Balkans, meant to be an uplifting minute throughout the sport’s hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, was cancelled when Djokovic, his wife Jelena, three other gamers, 3 coaches and one particular player’s expecting wife tested favourable for the virus.

In contrast to other exhibition situations all through the pandemic, there was constrained social distancing on the Adria Tour, which was performed to crowded stadiums, with gamers hugging and higher-fiving every other, playing basketball and dancing jointly.

“He has not had a fantastic lockdown,” British athletics marketing and advertising qualified Tim Crow set it bluntly in a cellular phone interview with CNN Sport.

When Djokovic declared in May well he would host the Adria Tour, it appeared like tennis was little by little rising from the shutdown, which experienced led to the very first cancellation of Wimbledon considering that Planet War II.

The Adria Tour, which was scheduled to be played in 4 cities from June 13 by July 5, had captivated three-time grand slam finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, planet No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany and three-time big semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, among some others. Djokovic’s 24-yr-previous brother, Djordje, was named match director.

Talking at a launch push convention on May perhaps 27, Djokovic stated he was “very happy” to announce the series, structured by him and his relatives. He pressured “definitely all revenue” from it would be heading to humanitarian corporations, just before proudly asserting that all the gamers would be taking part in for no cost.

He also stated the tour would “stick to to and adhere to” the neighborhood polices and principles.

Read through: Djokovic tests positive for coronavirus

Belgrade party

When Djokovic played his to start with match in opposition to fellow Serb Viktor Troicki on the afternoon of Saturday June 13 in Belgrade, some 4,000 spectators experienced loaded the stadium near to the Danube river to capability, with number of supporters sporting masks. The gamers, good pals, hugged after Djokovic gained in straight sets.

They also shook hands with the umpire, while ball children handed them their towels. They took selfies with supporters later on, and signed autographs.

Serbia and Croatia, neither of which knowledgeable key virus outbreaks, experienced recently lifted quite a few lockdown steps. But the Serbian federal government was even now inquiring people today to keep on being a person meter aside. The deficiency of social distancing remaining lots of stunned.

“It is as if Coronavirus has handed?” wrote former British No. 1 Greg Rusedski on Twitter two times later. “How was this managed and why no issue for public social distancing and deal with masks. I know the figures in Serbia but why are they able to do this?”

The seemingly carefree nature of the celebration, which arrived a few times immediately after a 20,000-strong crowd attended a soccer match in Belgrade, also stunned Crow, a former main govt of London-based sporting activities promoting agency Synergy.

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“It was a screw-up,” he explained. “As soon as you turned the Tv on, you consider, ‘Hang on a 2nd, what is actually going on right here?’ And sadly, we all know what took place.”

Also for the duration of that weekend, players including Djokovic, Thiem, Zverev and Dimitrov have been filmed dancing in a packed Belgrade nightclub.

Driving shut doorways

The confined social distancing at the Adria Tour was in sharp distinction to other exhibition activities during the pandemic in the US, Germany, Britain and France, which ended up all held behind closed doorways.

When Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ extensive-time mentor, wished to host an celebration at his academy in the south of France in the course of the lockdown, he reached out to the federal government. It despatched him a long checklist of protocols, which he has carried out in his Final Tennis Showdown collection.

“I required to make positive to do it in a way exactly where no one particular is at chance,” Mouratoglou instructed CNN Sport in a phone interview on Friday.

These contain all gamers staying examined the working day in advance of every single weekend’s matches, no lovers, no handshakes or ball-sharing concerning players, ball kids putting on gloves and masks and ample distance involving each seat in the players’ box.

Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the Adria Tour the working day right before his match versus Troicki, Djokovic defended the limited social distancing of the group.

He emphasised Serbia had “superior figures” compared with other countries. In accordance to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Useful resource Heart, Serbia has had 13,372 verified cases, which includes 264 fatalities. Neighboring Croatia experienced registered 2,483 cases, which includes 107 fatalities.

“You can also criticize us and say this is it’s possible harmful but it is not up to me to make phone calls about what is ideal and incorrect for wellness,” Djokovic included. “We are accomplishing what the Serbian federal government is telling us.”

Spectators watching matches at the Adria Tour in Zahar, Croatia on Sunday June 21, 2020. Later that day, tennis player Grigor Dimitrov said he had tested positive for Covid-19, leading to the cancellation of the entire Adria Tour.

Dimitrov’s bombshell

The upcoming leg of the Adria Tour on June 20-21 once yet again captivated countless numbers of spectators, together with Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who briefly achieved Djokovic. Because Croatia had eased its lockdown measures before the celebration, players and supporters failed to have to stick to social distancing guidelines.

Then came the bombshell announcement by Dimitrov on Sunday June 21 that he had tested good for coronavirus.

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The organizers swiftly canceled the total series, whilst most of the other players were being tested the exact same night. Then, on Monday, Croatia’s Borna Coric confirmed he far too had examined optimistic, while Zverev, previous US Open up winner Marin Cilic of Croatia and Russia’s Andrey Rublev all analyzed detrimental but promised to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution.

Spectators watch a tennis match during an exhibition tournament in Zadar, Croatia, Sunday, June 21, 2020.

Troicki unveiled he experienced analyzed positive before long immediately after and then, on Tuesday, Djokovic confirmed that he, as well, and his wife, Jelena, had done the same. Troicki’s expecting wife, Djokovic’s health mentor and Dimitrov’s mentor ended up also favourable. Then on Friday, Djokovic’s co-mentor, Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, unveiled he also analyzed positive.

Djokovic’s mother Dijana informed Serbian newspaper Blic that even though the environment No. 1 is favourable it “does not signify he is unwell.”

“He is a younger guy and can bear it less difficult,” she explained. ‘I also think this virus is shut to the conclude so this appears to be just like a next wave of Corona, which is not as sturdy as in the beginning.”

“It is terrible, as well horrible, what they produce (worldwide media), but we are applied to it. It is like they couldn’t wait for it (bad news) to transpire. It is noticeable that they have a thing versus Novak.”

Browse: Tennis function organized by Djokovic underneath hearth


The condemnation was rapid, with Australian participant Nick Kyrgios labeling it a “boneheaded choice” to go in advance with the event. Britain’s Andy Murray explained that soon after seeing some of the photos of the publish-celebration celebration in Belgrade and of kids’ day it was “not shocking how many persons experienced tested good.”

Djokovic, who went from Zadar to Belgrade before remaining tested, claimed he was “deeply sorry our tournament experienced brought on harm.” Stressing that every little thing had been carried out with very good intentions, he mentioned he experienced thought the tournament satisfied all the protocols but that “we ended up mistaken and it was way too quickly.”

The blame game was immediately in entire circulation, with Djokovic’s father Srdjan pointing the finger at Dimitrov.

“Why did this come about? It is simply because the gentleman (Dimitrov) has likely arrived ill from who appreciates exactly where and then every thing happened. Evidently he did not take a look at below but someplace else and I really don’t consider that that’s correct,” the planet No. 1’s father informed RTL Croatia.

“He brought about major hurt to you in Croatia, to us as a household and to us as Serbia,” Djokovic’s father added, continuing to point the finger at Dimitrov.

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Dimitrov’s agent didn’t quickly respond to CNN Sport’s request for remark, but he was commonly quoted as telling other media that “Grigor landed directly in Belgrade following 3 months of total isolation. Neither in Belgrade (the to start with stop) nor later in Zadar was he available or needed to take a look at for coronavirus.”

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic (L) talks to his wife Jelena during a match at the Adria Tour, Novak Djokovic's Balkans charity tennis tournament in Belgrade on June 14, 2020.

Reputational fallout?

This has not been Djokovic’s only brush with controversy through the pandemic.

Soon right before the get started of the Adria Tour, Djokovic, who is also president of the player council of the men’s ATP Tour, angered some players by suggesting he may perhaps not consider aspect in the US Open up in New York at the end of August simply because organizers claimed they needed to restrict player entourages to just a person additional man or woman.

In April, he lifted eyebrows for expressing he was against the idea of having to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as a attainable prerequisite to enjoy on Tour again. And in May well, he recommended throughout an Instagram Are living that polluted drinking water could be cleaned with positivity.

“He’s constantly been an unconventional thinker,” claimed Crow. “That’s part of his makeup.”

But Crow, who has worked with some of the world’s most important providers, does not feel the collapse of the Adria Tour has weakened Djokovic’s personal brand.

“It really is not suitable but I imagine it is just a blip,” stated Crow. “He did it with the best intentions and he realizes he has screwed up. And everybody screws up, every the moment in a whilst.”

Djokovic’s representative hadn’t responded to CNN’s ask for for remark at the time of publication.

Djokovic manufactured $33 million in the past year from company promotions with 7 sponsors, together with racket producer Head and French motor vehicle maker Peugeot, according to Forbes.

If it hadn’t been for the virus, he may well have been effectively on his way to tying or even surpassing both equally Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as the most productive male participant of all time.

When the activity shut down in March, Djokovic had gained 5 of the past 7 majors, having his overall tally to 17. That is just two shy of Nadal and three of Federer, who is out all season with a knee injury.

But in its place of chasing his sixth Wimbledon title in the coming fortnight, Djokovic will spend most of it self-isolating with his spouse and children.

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About the Author: Mortimer Nelson

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