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Tennis star Djokovic cops huge serve for causing his own mini-pandemic


World tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic has been pilloried for testing positive to COVID-19, days after hosting a number of players in the Adria Tour exhibition tournament in the Balkan region.


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Djokovic was criticised for staging the tournament amid a pandemic after Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also returned positive tests following the tournament in Serbia and Croatia.

The tennis world has shown little sympathy for the Djokovic, with former world No.1 Andy Murray taking aim.

“Obviously it’s not surprising how many players have tested positive when you see the scenes and the images and the videos from the tournament and the players party with no social distancing in place,” Murray said on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen some people say this puts the US Open in doubt but the measures and the protocols they have in place are completely different to what was going on in Serbia and Croatia.

“For a start, there will be no fans and the players will now know we can all be affected by this, it doesn’t matter who you are, we need to respect the rules.”

Australian two-times grand slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.

“Prayers up to all the players that have contracted COVID-19. Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake,”

Martina Navratilova, 59-times Grand Slam champion, wrote:

“Yikes this is not good and it’s a pattern. Hope Novak will be ok of course! What now, US Open? Roland Garros? We have a lot of work to do.”

Patrick McEnroe, former doubles champion and commentator:

“When I sent out a tweet a couple weeks ago about that event in Serbia I said yeah it looks like a normal tennis event to me. I’m not sure everyone got my point,” he said in a video on Twitter.

“Maybe they are starting to get it now. Nothing’s foolproof so don’t be foolish. That’s my message.”

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi:

“Obviously we feel sorry for the players. We want them to recover as soon as possible,” he told the New York Times.

“I know there has been a lot of criticism but on the other hand we at the ATP, the USTA and everybody, we have to be careful because we also have to be conscious that even with extreme measures you could actually end up having some players testing positive.

“You don’t need players and people hugging each other for someone to test positive. So we’re all running the risk.”

Croatian Tennis president Nikolina Babic:

“Some minor mistakes may have been made, but the idea (for the tournament) was a good one,” Babic told Croatian daily Vecernji List.

“In Zadar, we had players for whom we usually have to pay 10 million euros ($11.3 million) to bring. It was an opportunity that may never come to us again.”

Radmilo Armenulic, former Yugoslavia Davis Cup coach:

“Djokovic shot himself in the foot by organising the Adria Tour. The organisation of the Belgrade leg was catastrophic, the stands were so full that fans were virtually sitting on top of each other,” he told Reuters.

“He staged this event with the best of intentions but it turns out it was a big mistake.”

Donna Vekic, who featured in a mixed doubles match with Djokovic and Coric at the tournament:

“Just wanted to inform you that I have tested negative for COVID-19 and I will do another test on Friday,” she wrote on Twitter.

“According to input from medical experts, I am self-isolating. Wishing everyone who tested positive a speedy recovery.”

Over the past two days, organisers have also been criticised for allowing stands to be packed with fans during the opening leg in Belgrade.

With no social distancing rules in place in Serbia, players hugged at the net, played basketball, posed for pictures, attended press conferences and were out dancing together.

“I don’t think he should be having a players’ party and dancing all over each other,” Britain’s No.1 Dan Evans said.

“Players have tested positive. He should feel some responsibility in his event and how it’s transpired, really.”

Sachia Vickery, American tennis player:

“Last one for the Djokovic fan club who abused me last week after all I said was the first priority should be health and not how many people the top players can bring to a slam,” she wrote on Twitter.

Mitchell Krueger, American tennis player:

“It’s only inevitable that all these boneheaded decisions are possibly putting US Open at risk. Which means this also affects some 300-plus players. Nobody is bigger than the sport,” he tweeted.

“One step forward five steps back,” Krueger added in response to Djokovic’s positive test.


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