Novak Djokovic: A 7 days to ignore for planet No. 1 immediately after exhibition tennis fiasco

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

As a substitute, the top rated-rated Serb is involved in a problems limitation exercise just after his exhibition tour in the Balkans, supposed to be an uplifting instant throughout the sport’s hiatus since of the coronavirus pandemic, was cancelled when Djokovic, his spouse Jelena, 3 other gamers, 3 coaches and a single player’s expecting spouse analyzed positive for the virus.

Not like other exhibition occasions throughout the pandemic, there was constrained social distancing on the Adria Tour, which was played to crowded stadiums, with players hugging and superior-fiving just about every other, participating in basketball and dancing alongside one another.

“He has not experienced a excellent lockdown,” British sporting activities promoting expert Tim Crow place it bluntly in a cell phone interview with CNN Activity.

When Djokovic announced in Might he would host the Adria Tour, it appeared like tennis was slowly but surely emerging from the shutdown, which experienced led to the initial cancellation of Wimbledon given that World War II.

The Adria Tour, which was scheduled to be played in 4 towns from June 13 as a result of July 5, experienced attracted a few-time grand slam finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, earth No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany and three-time main semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, among other folks. Djokovic’s 24-yr-old brother, Djordje, was named event director.

Talking at a start push convention on May perhaps 27, Djokovic said he was “incredibly delighted” to announce the series, organized by him and his spouse and children. He stressed “absolutely all money” from it would be heading to humanitarian corporations, ahead of proudly announcing that all the players would be actively playing for free.

He also said the tour would “stick to to and adhere to” the neighborhood regulations and guidelines.

Go through: Djokovic tests optimistic for coronavirus

Belgrade celebration

When Djokovic performed his initial match towards fellow Serb Viktor Troicki on the afternoon of Saturday June 13 in Belgrade, some 4,000 spectators had stuffed the stadium close to the Danube river to ability, with couple of admirers sporting masks. The gamers, great good friends, hugged soon after Djokovic gained in straight sets.

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

Serbia and Croatia, neither of which skilled key virus outbreaks, experienced lately lifted many lockdown steps. But the Serbian federal government was nevertheless asking men and women to continue to be one particular meter apart. The lack of social distancing left a lot of stunned.

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

The seemingly carefree mother nature of the occasion, which arrived a few days after a 20,000-sturdy crowd attended a soccer match in Belgrade, also amazed Crow, a former main executive of London-primarily based sports advertising company Synergy.

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“It was a screw-up,” he stated. “As quickly as you turned the Television on, you think, ‘Hang on a 2nd, what is heading on in this article?’ And regrettably, we all know what transpired.”

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

Driving closed doors

The confined social distancing at the Adria Tour was in sharp contrast to other exhibition gatherings for the duration of the pandemic in the US, Germany, Britain and France, which were being all held behind closed doorways.

When Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ long-time mentor, needed to host an event at his academy in the south of France in the course of the lockdown, he attained out to the authorities. It sent him a long list of protocols, which he has implemented in his Best Tennis Showdown series.

“I wished to make confident to do it in a way in which no a single is at hazard,” Mouratoglou advised CNN Sport in a phone interview on Friday.

These contain all gamers getting analyzed the working day prior to every weekend’s matches, no lovers, no handshakes or ball-sharing involving gamers, ball kids carrying gloves and masks and enough length between each individual seat in the players’ box.

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

He emphasized Serbia had “much better numbers” when compared with other nations around the world. In accordance to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Middle, Serbia has experienced 13,372 verified instances, such as 264 fatalities. Neighboring Croatia experienced registered 2,483 conditions, which include 107 deaths.

“You can also criticize us and say this is perhaps unsafe but it’s not up to me to make calls about what is correct and erroneous for wellbeing,” Djokovic additional. “We are executing what the Serbian 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 subsequent leg of the Adria Tour on June 20-21 at the time again attracted countless numbers of spectators, which include Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who briefly satisfied Djokovic. Mainly because Croatia had eased its lockdown measures just before the party, players and admirers didn’t have to stick to social distancing procedures.

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

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The organizers swiftly canceled the whole sequence, even though most of the other players have been tested the exact same evening. Then, on Monday, Croatia’s Borna Coric confirmed he way too experienced examined positive, though Zverev, previous US Open up winner Marin Cilic of Croatia and Russia’s Andrey Rublev all examined damaging 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 analyzed favourable quickly following and then, on Tuesday, Djokovic verified that he, far too, and his spouse, Jelena, had performed the very same. Troicki’s pregnant spouse, Djokovic’s health and fitness mentor and Dimitrov’s mentor have been also beneficial. Then on Friday, Djokovic’s co-mentor, Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, disclosed he also analyzed good.

Djokovic’s mother Dijana advised Serbian newspaper Blic that despite the fact that the world No. 1 is optimistic it “will not signify he is sick.”

“He is a young guy and can bear it less difficult,” she explained. ‘I also assume this virus is close to the close so this appears to be just like a next wave of Corona, which is not as strong as in the starting.”

“It is awful, as well horrible, what they publish (international media), but we are applied to it. It is like they could not wait around for it (poor news) to transpire. It is noticeable that they have anything in opposition to Novak.”

Browse: Tennis event organized by Djokovic underneath fire

Condemnation

The condemnation was rapid, with Australian player Nick Kyrgios labeling it a “boneheaded decision” to go forward with the event. Britain’s Andy Murray stated that just after observing some of the photos of the article-party social gathering in Belgrade and of kids’ working day it was “not astonishing how a lot of people had tested constructive.”

Djokovic, who went from Zadar to Belgrade in advance of currently being analyzed, claimed he was “deeply sorry our tournament experienced triggered harm.” Stressing that everything experienced been carried out with superior intentions, he explained he had believed the event fulfilled all the protocols but that “we ended up wrong and it was much too quickly.”

The blame game was speedily in whole flow, with Djokovic’s father Srdjan pointing the finger at Dimitrov.

“Why did this materialize? It is for the reason that the person (Dimitrov) has probably arrived unwell from who is aware wherever and then anything transpired. Seemingly he didn’t exam below but somewhere else and I never consider that which is correct,” the planet No. 1’s father explained to RTL Croatia.

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

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Dimitrov’s agent failed to quickly react to CNN Sport’s request for remark, but he was commonly quoted as telling other media that “Grigor landed straight in Belgrade immediately after three months of complete isolation. Neither in Belgrade (the first quit) nor later in Zadar was he supplied or required to test 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.

Soon just before the begin of the Adria Tour, Djokovic, who is also president of the player council of the men’s ATP Tour, angered some gamers by suggesting he may perhaps not choose component in the US Open in New York at the finish of August for the reason that organizers reported they required to limit participant entourages to just just one more man or woman.

In April, he raised eyebrows for declaring he was against the strategy of owning to be vaccinated for Covid-19 as a feasible prerequisite to enjoy on Tour once more. And in Might, he instructed all through an Instagram Are living that polluted h2o could be cleaned with positivity.

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

But Crow, who has labored with some of the world’s biggest businesses, would not consider the collapse of the Adria Tour has destroyed Djokovic’s personal model.

“It can be not perfect but I feel it can be just a blip,” explained Crow. “He did it with the greatest intentions and he realizes he has screwed up. And everybody screws up, every after in a although.”

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

Djokovic produced $33 million in the past year from corporate bargains with 7 sponsors, which include racket producer Head and French car maker Peugeot, according to Forbes.

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

When the activity shut down in March, Djokovic had won five of the very last seven majors, using his total tally to 17. That is just two shy of Nadal and a few of Federer, who is out all period with a knee personal injury.

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

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