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

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

Rather, the major-ranked Serb is involved in a injury limitation exercise right after his exhibition tour in the Balkans, supposed to be an uplifting second through the sport’s hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, was cancelled when Djokovic, his spouse Jelena, a few other gamers, a few coaches and 1 player’s expecting wife examined good for the virus.

Contrary to other exhibition situations through the pandemic, there was confined social distancing on the Adria Tour, which was performed to crowded stadiums, with players hugging and substantial-fiving just about every other, taking part in basketball and dancing together.

“He has not had a excellent lockdown,” British sports internet marketing specialist Tim Crow put it bluntly in a cell phone job interview with CNN Activity.

When Djokovic announced in May he would host the Adria Tour, it appeared like tennis was gradually rising from the shutdown, which had led to the very first cancellation of Wimbledon because Entire world War II.

The Adria Tour, which was scheduled to be played in 4 cities from June 13 by July 5, experienced attracted three-time grand slam finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, environment No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany and a few-time major semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, among the others. Djokovic’s 24-calendar year-old brother, Djordje, was named match director.

Talking at a start press conference on Might 27, Djokovic stated he was “extremely happy” to announce the series, arranged by him and his spouse and children. He pressured “totally all revenue” from it would be heading to humanitarian companies, ahead of proudly asserting that all the players would be enjoying for free.

He also mentioned the tour would “adhere to to and adhere to” the neighborhood laws and procedures.

Go through: Djokovic assessments optimistic for coronavirus

Belgrade get together

When Djokovic performed his first match versus fellow Serb Viktor Troicki on the afternoon of Saturday June 13 in Belgrade, some 4,000 spectators had stuffed the stadium near to the Danube river to ability, with handful of followers carrying masks. The gamers, very good mates, hugged just after Djokovic won in straight sets.

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

Serbia and Croatia, neither of which professional main virus outbreaks, had not long ago lifted several lockdown steps. But the Serbian governing administration was nonetheless inquiring men and women to remain just one meter apart. The lack of social distancing left lots of surprised.

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

The seemingly carefree nature of the event, which arrived a few days following a 20,000-potent crowd attended a soccer match in Belgrade, also amazed Crow, a previous chief govt of London-based sporting activities marketing agency Synergy.

“It was a screw-up,” he explained. “As quickly as you turned the Television on, you feel, ‘Hang on a second, what’s going on right here?’ And sadly, we all know what took place.”

Also throughout that weekend, gamers which include Djokovic, Thiem, Zverev and Dimitrov had been filmed dancing in a packed Belgrade nightclub.

Powering shut doorways

The confined social distancing at the Adria Tour was in sharp distinction to other exhibition gatherings through the pandemic in the US, Germany, Britain and France, which were all held at the rear of shut doors.

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When Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ lengthy-time mentor, wished to host an function at his academy in the south of France throughout the lockdown, he achieved out to the govt. It despatched him a long record of protocols, which he has carried out in his Greatest Tennis Showdown sequence.

“I desired to make confident to do it in a way exactly where no one particular is at danger,” Mouratoglou informed CNN Activity in a telephone interview on Friday.

These consist of all players being tested the day prior to every weekend’s matches, no enthusiasts, no handshakes or ball-sharing amongst players, ball young children sporting gloves and masks and ample distance among every single seat in the players’ box.

Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the Adria Tour the day just before his match against Troicki, Djokovic defended the confined social distancing of the group.

He emphasised Serbia experienced “improved quantities” in comparison with other countries. In accordance to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Source Heart, Serbia has experienced 13,372 confirmed instances, which include 264 fatalities. Neighboring Croatia experienced registered 2,483 circumstances, like 107 fatalities.

“You can also criticize us and say this is possibly perilous but it truly is not up to me to make phone calls about what is ideal and completely wrong for wellbeing,” Djokovic extra. “We are executing 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 after once again attracted thousands of spectators, which includes Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who briefly met Djokovic. Due to the fact Croatia experienced eased its lockdown measures prior to the celebration, gamers and enthusiasts didn’t have to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Then came the bombshell announcement by Dimitrov on Sunday June 21 that he experienced analyzed favourable for coronavirus.

The organizers quickly canceled the full sequence, whilst most of the other players were analyzed the exact evening. Then, on Monday, Croatia’s Borna Coric verified he too had examined optimistic, whilst Zverev, previous US Open winner Marin Cilic of Croatia and Russia’s Andrey Rublev all analyzed 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 exposed he experienced examined positive soon immediately after and then, on Tuesday, Djokovic confirmed that he, also, and his spouse, Jelena, had done the same. Troicki’s pregnant spouse, Djokovic’s fitness coach and Dimitrov’s mentor have been also constructive. Then on Friday, Djokovic’s co-coach, Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, disclosed he also analyzed constructive.

Djokovic’s mom Dijana explained to Serbian newspaper Blic that despite the fact that the planet No. 1 is optimistic it “does not suggest he is ill.”

“He is a youthful man and can bear it simpler,” she said. ‘I also think this virus is near to the finish so this appears to be just like a second wave of Corona, which is not as solid as in the commencing.”

“It is awful, also horrible, what they generate (international media), but we are used to it. It is like they could not wait around for it (undesirable news) to come about. It is clear that they have some thing towards Novak.”

Read through: Tennis event arranged by Djokovic less than hearth


The condemnation was speedy, with Australian participant Nick Kyrgios labeling it a “boneheaded choice” to go forward with the celebration. Britain’s Andy Murray claimed that just after viewing some of the pics of the put up-occasion get together in Belgrade and of kids’ working day it was “not surprising how numerous individuals experienced analyzed favourable.”

Djokovic, who went from Zadar to Belgrade in advance of remaining examined, said he was “deeply sorry our tournament experienced brought on damage.” Stressing that almost everything had been done with superior intentions, he stated he experienced believed the tournament met all the protocols but that “we were being completely wrong and it was far too shortly.”

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

“Why did this materialize? It is mainly because the male (Dimitrov) has likely arrived unwell from who knows where and then all the things happened. Evidently he didn’t take a look at here but someplace else and I do not imagine that which is ideal,” the world No. 1’s father instructed RTL Croatia.

“He brought about main harm to you in Croatia, to us as a household and to us as Serbia,” Djokovic’s father included, continuing to place the finger at Dimitrov.

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Dimitrov’s agent failed to instantly react to CNN Sport’s request for comment, but he was commonly quoted as telling other media that “Grigor landed specifically in Belgrade after 3 months of total isolation. Neither in Belgrade (the 1st halt) nor afterwards in Zadar was he made available 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 through the pandemic.

Shortly right before the start 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 well not just take part in the US Open in New York at the conclusion of August mainly because organizers claimed they preferred to restrict participant entourages to just a person extra person.

In April, he raised eyebrows for indicating he was towards the strategy of obtaining to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as a feasible prerequisite to play on Tour once again. And in Could, he proposed throughout an Instagram Stay that polluted water could be cleaned with positivity.

“He is always been an unconventional thinker,” said Crow. “That’s aspect of his make-up.”

But Crow, who has labored with some of the world’s biggest businesses, will not feel the collapse of the Adria Tour has broken Djokovic’s private brand name.

“It is really not excellent but I think it is really just a blip,” explained Crow. “He did it with the greatest intentions and he realizes he has screwed up. And everybody screws up, each individual the moment in a when.”

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

Djokovic produced $33 million in the past yr from company deals with 7 sponsors, together with racket manufacturer Head and French auto maker Peugeot, in accordance to Forbes.

If it hadn’t been for the virus, he might have been very well on his way to tying or even surpassing both of those 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 very last seven majors, taking his whole tally to 17. That’s just two shy of Nadal and 3 of Federer, who is out all time with a knee damage.

But alternatively of chasing his sixth Wimbledon title in the coming fortnight, Djokovic will commit most of it self-isolating with his family members.

Cory Weinberg

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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