ATP world #1 Novak Djokovic has called the response to his widely-criticised tennis tour a “witch-hunt”.

The Adria Tour, an exhibition tennis tournament held by Djokovic, was condemned for going ahead amid the global pandemic. The tour was inevitably cancelled midway through after the world #1 tested positive for COVID-19, alongside several other players in his troupe.

“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” Djokovic told Serbain publication Sportski Zurnal. “It’s obviously more than just criticism – it’s like an agenda and a witch-hunt. Someone has to take the fall, a big name.”

“We complied with all the laws and regulations. But we’ve learned our lessons and some things could have probably been done in a different way.”

“My intention was pure, I was wholeheartedly committed to organising a humanitarian event to help players and tennis federations in the region.”

Nick Kyrgios was one of the more vocal critics, slamming Djokovic for showing blatant disregard for the threat of COVID-19. “Prayers up to all the players that have contracted Covid – 19,” he tweeted. “Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake.”

Novak Djokovic also spoke about the prospect of him playing at the US Open, the final Grand Slam in the 2020 tennis calendar which is still slated to commence at the beginning of September.

“I still haven’t decided whether I will play in the US Open,” he told the publication. “The upsurge in registered COVID-19 cases in the United States and New York in particular are not playing into the event’s hand.”

Image: Getty Images / Srdjan Stevanovic