Novak Djokovic has addressed the absolute shitstorm caused by an email he wrote to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, saying his good intentions were “misconstrued”.
Earlier this week, Djokovic wrote to Tiley with a bunch of ways to improve quarantine for Open players.
More than 70 players competing in the Open are currently in a hard lockdown for 14 days and unable to properly train after passengers across three charter flights flying them to Melbourne tested positive for the virus.
The list, published by Spanish tennis site Punto de Break, reportedly included ideas like fitness and training material in all hotel rooms, reduced isolation periods, and having players in hard quarantine moved to “private homes with tennis courts”.
In a nutshell: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said no.
In a letter addressed to “Australia”, the men’s World Number 1 player said he wanted to clarify the situation because of the recent criticism he had copped from the media and social media.
“My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful,” he wrote.
“This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
Djokovic said he genuinely cares about his fellow players and wanted to use his position of privilege as a top tier player to try and help them.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 20, 2021
Djokovic said these “improvements” were “suggestions” that were pooled together from his group chat with other players. He also hit back at reports that he, and other players, questioned the 14 days of mandatory quarantine.
“Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak, and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine.
“I am very sorry that it has come to that because I do know how grateful many are. We all came to Australia to compete. Not being able to train and prepare before the tournament starts is really not easy.
“None of us ever questioned 14 days of quarantine despite what is being said by media outlets.”
The eight-time Australian Open winner and defending champion said that he understands the efforts that go into organising international sporting events during a pandemic, and thanked Tennis Australia and the Australian Government for taking the risk.
“We are honoured, and we will do our best to follow the guidelines and protocols put in place,” he shared.
Djokovic concluded his letter by thanking his fans for their messages of gratitude and love.
The Australian Open later retweeted Djokovic’s letter, so that’s that.
The tournament begins February 8.