‘I genuinely care about my fellow players’: Tennis No1 Novak Djokovic hits back at critics to defend his Australian Open ‘demands’
Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic has broken his silence after being fiercely criticized for his Australian Open safety protocol "demands", explaining that his "good intentions" in emails with organizers were misinterpreted.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner wrote to Tennis Australia head Craig Tiley regarding the implementation of strict quarantine rules for players after several positive Covid-19 cases were confirmed on charter flights to Melbourne, sending 72 players into complete isolation for two weeks.
Djokovic’s letter triggered angry reactions from critics, who accused the tennis star of being selfish and appearing to prefer to focus more on players’ conditions while ignoring the potential Covid-19 threat.
A harsh social media backlash prompted the player to publicly explain his real intentions behind what had been seen as "demands" over safety protocol.
In a lengthy Twitter post, the Serb said that he "genuinely cares about his fellow players" who have been locked in hotel rooms without having a chance to train and prepare for the season-opening Grand Slam.
“In light of recent media and social media criticism for my letter to Craig Tiley, I would like to clarify a few things,” Djokovic wrote.
“My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Not every act is taken at its face value and at times, when I see the aftermath of things, I do tend to ask myself if I should just sit back and enjoy my benefits instead of paying attention to other people’s struggles.
"However, I always choose to do something and be of service despite the challenging consequences and misunderstandings.
“I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why.”
The tennis star added that all he wanted was to improve conditions for those locked in two-week quarantine.
“I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed,” Djokovic said.
“I have always had a very good relationship with Craig and I respect and appreciate all the effort he puts into making the Australian Open a place to look forward to coming back to each year.
“In our email exchange I used an opportunity to brainstorm about potential improvements that could be made to the quarantine of players in Melbourne that were in full lockdown,” he added.
Djokovic himself is currently serving his obligatory quarantine isolation in Adelaide, along with other top players, including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.
He was blasted as a "tool" by familiar adversary Nick Kyrgios earlier this week, having previously been maligned by the Australian over his Adria Tour last summer, which resulted in a succession of positive tests for Covid-19.
The Australian Open is set to get underway in Melbourne on Monday, February 8, with the tournament running through to Sunday, February 21.