Novak Djokovic: A week to ignore for globe No. 1 following exhibition tennis fiasco

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

In its place, the prime-rated Serb is concerned in a damage limitation work out just after his exhibition tour in the Balkans, meant to be an uplifting moment during the sport’s hiatus mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic, was cancelled when Djokovic, his wife Jelena, 3 other players, three coaches and 1 player’s expecting spouse examined good for the virus.

In contrast to other exhibition activities during the pandemic, there was confined social distancing on the Adria Tour, which was played to crowded stadiums, with players hugging and large-fiving each individual other, actively playing basketball and dancing with each other.

“He hasn’t experienced a fantastic lockdown,” British sports internet marketing professional Tim Crow set it bluntly in a cellphone job interview with CNN Sport.

When Djokovic announced in May he would host the Adria Tour, it seemed like tennis was slowly and gradually rising from the shutdown, which had led to the initially cancellation of Wimbledon because World War II.

The Adria Tour, which was scheduled to be played in 4 metropolitan areas from June 13 via July 5, experienced attracted three-time grand slam finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, planet No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany and 3-time key semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, amongst other individuals. Djokovic’s 24-12 months-previous brother, Djordje, was named event director.

Talking at a start press conference on May possibly 27, Djokovic reported he was “particularly content” to announce the collection, structured by him and his family members. He pressured “definitely all cash flow” from it would be heading to humanitarian companies, prior to proudly asserting that all the gamers would be actively playing for totally free.

He also stated the tour would “follow to and adhere to” the neighborhood polices and policies.

Belgrade celebration

When Djokovic performed his 1st match against fellow Serb Viktor Troicki on the afternoon of Saturday June 13 in Belgrade, some 4,000 spectators experienced crammed the stadium close to the Danube river to capacity, with number of lovers sporting masks. The gamers, superior buddies, hugged soon after Djokovic received in straight sets.

They also shook fingers with the umpire, even though ball youngsters handed them their towels. They took selfies with fans afterwards, and signed autographs.

Serbia and Croatia, neither of which seasoned big virus outbreaks, had just lately lifted lots of lockdown actions. But the Serbian govt was still asking men and women to stay 1 meter aside. The lack of social distancing left a lot of shocked.

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

The seemingly carefree mother nature of the party, which arrived a handful of days immediately after a 20,000-robust crowd attended a soccer match in Belgrade, also stunned Crow, a former main govt of London-based mostly sports promoting company Synergy.

“It was a screw-up,” he mentioned. “As quickly as you turned the Television set on, you consider, ‘Hang on a 2nd, what’s going on right here?’ And however, we all know what happened.”

Also during that weekend, players such as Djokovic, Thiem, Zverev and Dimitrov ended up filmed dancing in a packed Belgrade nightclub.

Driving closed doors

The minimal social distancing at the Adria Tour was in sharp distinction to other exhibition functions for the duration of the pandemic in the US, Germany, Britain and France, which had been all held driving closed doorways.

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When Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ prolonged-time mentor, required to host an celebration at his academy in the south of France through the lockdown, he achieved out to the governing administration. It sent him a lengthy checklist of protocols, which he has executed in his Best Tennis Showdown series.

“I wanted to make sure to do it in a way where by no just one is at danger,” Mouratoglou told CNN Sport in a cellular phone interview on Friday.

These consist of all players being tested the working day in advance of each and every weekend’s matches, no supporters, no handshakes or ball-sharing in between players, ball youngsters sporting gloves and masks and ample distance among just about every seat in the players’ box.

Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the Adria Tour the day in advance of his match against Troicki, Djokovic defended the minimal social distancing of the group.

He emphasised Serbia had “greater numbers” compared with other countries. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Useful resource Centre, Serbia has had 13,372 confirmed cases, like 264 fatalities. Neighboring Croatia experienced registered 2,483 scenarios, together with 107 deaths.

“You can also criticize us and say this is possibly hazardous but it can be not up to me to make phone calls about what is appropriate and mistaken for wellness,” Djokovic included. “We are doing what the Serbian authorities 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 up coming leg of the Adria Tour on June 20-21 when once more attracted thousands of spectators, which includes Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who briefly achieved Djokovic. Due to the fact Croatia had eased its lockdown actions just before the party, gamers and supporters did not have to adhere to social distancing regulations.

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

The organizers quickly canceled the complete collection, even though most of the other players were examined the very same evening. Then, on Monday, Croatia’s Borna Coric verified he much too experienced examined favourable, although 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 uncovered he had examined favourable soon following and then, on Tuesday, Djokovic confirmed that he, way too, and his spouse, Jelena, experienced done the same. Troicki’s expecting wife, Djokovic’s physical fitness coach and Dimitrov’s coach had been also constructive. Then on Friday, Djokovic’s co-coach, Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, unveiled he also tested constructive.

Djokovic’s mom Dijana advised Serbian newspaper Blic that despite the fact that the globe No. 1 is optimistic it “would not imply he is unwell.”

“He is a young gentleman and can bear it a lot easier,” she mentioned. ‘I also consider this virus is shut to the close so this appears to be just like a second wave of Corona, which is not as powerful as in the commencing.”

“It is awful, too terrible, what they generate (global media), but we are made use of to it. It is like they could not wait around for it (undesirable news) to materialize. It is noticeable that they have anything towards Novak.”


The condemnation was speedy, with Australian player Nick Kyrgios labeling it a “boneheaded decision” to go ahead with the occasion. Britain’s Andy Murray claimed that right after seeing some of the images of the post-event bash in Belgrade and of kids’ day it was “not stunning how a lot of people had analyzed optimistic.”

Djokovic, who went from Zadar to Belgrade right before getting tested, mentioned he was “deeply sorry our event had triggered harm.” Stressing that anything experienced been performed with fantastic intentions, he said he experienced thought the tournament met all the protocols but that “we have been improper and it was also soon.”

The blame video game was immediately in whole stream, with Djokovic’s father Srdjan pointing the finger at Dimitrov.

“Why did this transpire? It is since the male (Dimitrov) has probably arrived ill from who is familiar with wherever and then every thing took place. Apparently he didn’t check right here but somewhere else and I will not assume that that’s proper,” the planet No. 1’s father instructed RTL Croatia.

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

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Dimitrov’s agent did not immediately reply to CNN Sport’s request for comment, but he was broadly quoted as telling other media that “Grigor landed straight in Belgrade immediately after three months of full isolation. Neither in Belgrade (the 1st prevent) nor afterwards in Zadar was he presented or needed to exam 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 for the duration of the pandemic.

Shortly ahead of the start 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 well not take section in the US Open up in New York at the close of August for the reason that organizers explained they desired to restrict participant entourages to just 1 more person.

In April, he elevated eyebrows for stating he was towards the concept of possessing to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as a probable prerequisite to enjoy on Tour yet again. And in Might, he prompt all through an Instagram Stay that polluted water could be cleaned with positivity.

“He is normally been an unconventional thinker,” explained Crow. “Which is portion of his makeup.”

But Crow, who has labored with some of the world’s biggest corporations, will not feel the collapse of the Adria Tour has damaged Djokovic’s personalized model.

“It can be not perfect but I imagine it is really just a blip,” said Crow. “He did it with the most effective intentions and he realizes he has screwed up. And absolutely everyone screws up, each individual after in a whilst.”

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

Djokovic built $33 million in the previous 12 months from company discounts with 7 sponsors, like racket producer Head and French car maker Peugeot, in accordance to Forbes.

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

When the sport shut down in March, Djokovic had gained five of the past seven majors, using his overall tally to 17. That is just two shy of Nadal and a few of Federer, who is out all time with a knee damage.

But in its place of chasing his sixth Wimbledon title in the coming fortnight, Djokovic will invest most of it self-isolating with his relatives.

Seth Grace

About the author: Seth Grace

Seth Sale is an all-around geek who loves learning new stuff every day. With a background in Journalism and a passion for web-based technologies and Gadgets, she focuses on writing about on Hot Topics, Web Trends, Smartphones, and Tablets.

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