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

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

In its place, the top-rated Serb is involved in a damage limitation work out right after his exhibition tour in the Balkans, intended to be an uplifting moment all through the sport’s hiatus for the reason that of the coronavirus pandemic, was cancelled when Djokovic, his spouse Jelena, three other gamers, 3 coaches and one particular player’s expecting wife tested beneficial for the virus.

Contrary to other exhibition situations through the pandemic, there was limited social distancing on the Adria Tour, which was played to crowded stadiums, with gamers hugging and higher-fiving just about every other, playing basketball and dancing collectively.

“He hasn’t had a superior lockdown,” British sporting activities promoting specialist Tim Crow place it bluntly in a phone interview with CNN Sport.

When Djokovic declared in May perhaps he would host the Adria Tour, it appeared like tennis was slowly but surely emerging from the shutdown, which had led to the first cancellation of Wimbledon because Earth War II.

The Adria Tour, which was scheduled to be performed in four cities from June 13 as a result of July 5, had attracted 3-time grand slam finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, earth No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany and a few-time main semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, between others. Djokovic’s 24-year-outdated brother, Djordje, was named event director.

Speaking at a launch press conference on Could 27, Djokovic stated he was “incredibly satisfied” to announce the collection, arranged by him and his household. He pressured “certainly all revenue” from it would be heading to humanitarian companies, ahead of proudly asserting that all the gamers would be actively playing for no cost.

He also stated the tour would “follow to and adhere to” the nearby laws and regulations.

Browse: Djokovic checks constructive for coronavirus

Belgrade get together

When Djokovic performed his first match from fellow Serb Viktor Troicki on the afternoon of Saturday June 13 in Belgrade, some 4,000 spectators experienced filled the stadium near to the Danube river to potential, with handful of followers sporting masks. The gamers, superior pals, hugged following Djokovic gained in straight sets.

They also shook arms with the umpire, even though ball children handed them their towels. They took selfies with supporters afterwards, and signed autographs.

Serbia and Croatia, neither of which knowledgeable major virus outbreaks, had a short while ago lifted many lockdown steps. But the Serbian federal government was continue to asking men and women to continue being just one meter aside. The absence of social distancing left numerous stunned.

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

The seemingly carefree character of the event, which arrived a handful of times following a 20,000-sturdy crowd attended a soccer match in Belgrade, also shocked Crow, a former main government of London-centered athletics promoting agency Synergy.

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“It was a screw-up,” he explained. “As quickly as you turned the Television set on, you consider, ‘Hang on a second, what is likely on here?’ And regretably, we all know what took place.”

Also all through that weekend, gamers like Djokovic, Thiem, Zverev and Dimitrov have been filmed dancing in a packed Belgrade nightclub.

Guiding shut doors

The restricted social distancing at the Adria Tour was in sharp contrast to other exhibition activities throughout the pandemic in the US, Germany, Britain and France, which ended up all held driving shut doorways.

When Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ extensive-time mentor, needed to host an party at his academy in the south of France in the course of the lockdown, he attained out to the federal government. It sent him a very long listing of protocols, which he has executed in his Best Tennis Showdown sequence.

“I preferred to make positive to do it in a way wherever no just one is at possibility,” Mouratoglou explained to CNN Activity in a phone job interview on Friday.

These contain all players being examined the day before every weekend’s matches, no enthusiasts, no handshakes or ball-sharing amongst players, ball young children wearing gloves and masks and sufficient length amongst each and every seat in the players’ box.

Talking at the ceremonial opening of the Adria Tour the day ahead of his match in opposition to Troicki, Djokovic defended the restricted social distancing of the crowd.

He emphasised Serbia experienced “much better numbers” in comparison with other nations around the world. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Middle, Serbia has experienced 13,372 confirmed scenarios, which includes 264 fatalities. Neighboring Croatia experienced registered 2,483 instances, like 107 fatalities.

“You can also criticize us and say this is probably unsafe but it really is not up to me to make calls about what is correct and improper for well being,” Djokovic additional. “We are undertaking what the Serbian governing administration 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 following leg of the Adria Tour on June 20-21 when yet again captivated hundreds of spectators, including Croatia Key Minister Andrej Plenković, who briefly satisfied Djokovic. For the reason that Croatia had eased its lockdown steps in advance of the function, players and supporters did not have to adhere to social distancing rules.

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

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The organizers quickly canceled the entire sequence, though most of the other players have been tested the same night. Then, on Monday, Croatia’s Borna Coric verified he also had examined positive, even though Zverev, previous US Open up winner Marin Cilic of Croatia and Russia’s Andrey Rublev all examined negative 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 revealed he had tested favourable quickly just after and then, on Tuesday, Djokovic verified that he, as well, and his wife, Jelena, had performed the exact. Troicki’s expecting wife, Djokovic’s health mentor and Dimitrov’s mentor ended up also beneficial. Then on Friday, Djokovic’s co-mentor, Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, revealed he also tested constructive.

Djokovic’s mother Dijana explained to Serbian newspaper Blic that despite the fact that the entire world No. 1 is optimistic it “won’t mean he is ill.”

“He is a young gentleman and can bear it less complicated,” she reported. ‘I also assume this virus is near to the stop so this looks just like a next wave of Corona, which is not as potent as in the starting.”

“It is awful, way too horrible, what they generate (intercontinental media), but we are utilized to it. It is like they could not wait around for it (terrible news) to take place. It is obvious that they have some thing versus Novak.”

Study: Tennis function structured by Djokovic under fireplace


The condemnation was fast, with Australian participant Nick Kyrgios labeling it a “boneheaded decision” to go in advance with the event. Britain’s Andy Murray explained that immediately after seeing some of the photographs of the publish-occasion celebration in Belgrade and of kids’ day it was “not astonishing how many individuals experienced examined positive.”

Djokovic, who went from Zadar to Belgrade prior to remaining tested, said he was “deeply sorry our event experienced triggered hurt.” Stressing that all the things experienced been done with superior intentions, he claimed he had considered the tournament met all the protocols but that “we have been completely wrong and it was far too quickly.”

The blame recreation was rapidly in whole movement, with Djokovic’s father Srdjan pointing the finger at Dimitrov.

“Why did this materialize? It is because the gentleman (Dimitrov) has possibly arrived sick from who knows where by and then almost everything occurred. Seemingly he failed to examination right here but somewhere else and I really don’t believe that that is suitable,” the globe No. 1’s father informed RTL Croatia.

“He caused major damage to you in Croatia, to us as a spouse and children and to us as Serbia,” Djokovic’s father extra, continuing to position the finger at Dimitrov.

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Dimitrov’s agent failed to promptly reply to CNN Sport’s ask for for comment, but he was broadly quoted as telling other media that “Grigor landed right in Belgrade after a few months of entire isolation. Neither in Belgrade (the 1st stop) nor later on in Zadar was he provided or necessary to examination 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 hasn’t been Djokovic’s only brush with controversy all through the pandemic.

Soon before the begin of the Adria Tour, Djokovic, who is also president of the participant council of the men’s ATP Tour, angered some players by suggesting he may possibly not take section in the US Open in New York at the finish of August mainly because organizers reported they wanted to limit participant entourages to just just one more person.

In April, he lifted eyebrows for stating he was towards the concept of obtaining to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as a possible prerequisite to play on Tour yet again. And in May, he recommended for the duration of an Instagram Reside that polluted h2o could be cleaned with positivity.

“He’s usually been an unconventional thinker,” explained Crow. “That is section of his makeup.”

But Crow, who has worked with some of the world’s largest companies, would not believe the collapse of the Adria Tour has damaged Djokovic’s particular brand.

“It’s not great but I consider it’s just a blip,” stated Crow. “He did it with the most effective intentions and he realizes he has screwed up. And anyone screws up, just about every as soon as in a while.”

Djokovic’s consultant hadn’t responded to CNN’s request for comment at the time of publication.

Djokovic built $33 million in the previous 12 months from company promotions with 7 sponsors, including racket producer Head and French automobile maker Peugeot, according to Forbes.

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

When the sport shut down in March, Djokovic had gained 5 of the final 7 majors, using his full tally to 17. Which is just two shy of Nadal and 3 of Federer, who is out all year with a knee damage.

But as a substitute of chasing his sixth Wimbledon title in the coming fortnight, Djokovic will shell out most of it self-isolating with his family members.

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