Djokovic accuses critics of embarking on a 'witch-hunt' against him

‘Someone has to fall and be the main culprit for everything’: Novak Djokovic accuses critics of embarking on a ‘WITCH-HUNT’ against him in wake of his disastrous Adria Tour – which led to spate of coronavirus cases including world No 1 and his wife

  • Novak Djokovic has accused his critics of embarking on a witch-hunt against him
  • It comes in the wake of the disastrous Adria Tour that he organised last month
  • The world No 1, along with others, tested positive for coronavirus after the event
  • Djokovic has cast doubt over whether he would play in the US Open in August 

Novak Djokovic has accused critics of embarking on a ‘witch-hunt’ against him in the wake of the disastrous Adria Tour that he organised last month.

The world No 1 resurfaced after testing positive for coronavirus to fire back at those who expressed shock at the exhibition series that saw a range of participants catch the disease.

In his first interview since going to ground he also joined Rafael Nadal in casting doubt on whether or not he would play the US Open at the end of August.

Novak Djokovic (centre) with Dominic Thiem (left) and Alex Zverev (right) at the Adria Tour

Djokovic and some of his fellow tennis stars partied in a Belgrade nightclub, with some of the players taking their shirts off during the riotous evening

Djokovic (left centre) was joined by the likes of Alex Zverev and Dominic Thiem throughout the evening following the completion of the Adria Tour event

As the Serbian government reintroduced a lockdown in Belgrade due to a rise in cases Djokovic, who resumed practice on Tuesday, hit back.

‘Lately I only see criticism, very malicious,’ he told Sportski Zurnal. ‘Obviously, there is something more than that criticism, as if there is an agenda, as if it were a witch-hunt.

‘Someone has to fall, some person, some big name to be the main culprit for everything. I leave it to others to say if that is fair, I don’t think it is, I think that we must learn from all of this and to adapt as we go along.’

At the time of his project the virus was receding in Serbia, and the government there has accepted that regulations may have been relaxed too soon. However, there did appear to be an almost concerted effort to defy any social distancing conventions at the two events which took place before the tour was abandoned.

With American player Frances Tiafoe having tested positive at a tournament in Atlanta, the chances of the US Open happening seem to be shrinking, even before the announcement of the Ryder Cup postponement.

Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic revealed he tested positive for coronavirus after the event

Djokovic raised the possibility that the none of the big three men might be there, as Roger Federer is already out injured. He suggested he would play at the clay court Madrid Open, which gets underway immediately after the end of Flushing Meadows and involves an abrupt switch of surface.

‘I’m not sure I’ll play in the US Open,’ added Djokovic. ‘I plan to play Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros in September.’

He stressed that he is in favour of efforts to get tournaments on, even if the process is proving highly problematical in some parts.

‘I fully support the USTA (US Tennis Association) wish to hold tournaments in Washington, Cincinnati and the US Open, because it is very important for survival of many tennis professionals,’ said Djokovic.

‘Like everyone, we are going through economic difficulties. Personally, I don’t have that kind of pressure that the others feel and of course I understand them because vast majority need to play now and earn money. I salute to the efforts being made to hold tournaments, especially in the USA and in Europe, despite this big crisis, but there is a limit to everything.’

Participants Grigor Dimitrov, Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric also all contracted the virus

Djokovic was among those on the ATP Player Council who approved a temporary shift in the ranking system that will see events counted over a 22 month period, even though this probably helps world No 2 Nadal more than himself.

‘Some (players) won’t play until the end of 2020 and in this way the list protects them, they are not losing points. On the other hand, players who play will have a chance to earn new points. In this situation, I believe it was the best option.’

Nick Kyrgios has renewed his criticism of those who took part in the Adria Tour, and looks among the certain non-starters in New York.

‘This just shows what a joke Thiem, Zverev and Djokovic think this is,’ tweeted the Australian. ‘Two of them partying like potatoes during a global pandemic. People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake’. These guys are the ‘top’ of our sport. SMH [shaking my head].’

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