'Unjustified': Tennis great defends Novak Djokovic over 'selfish' criticism

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Novak Djokovic was roundly criticised for his list of recommendations to improve hotel quarantine for overseas players ahead of the Australian Open. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic was roundly criticised for his list of recommendations to improve hotel quarantine for overseas players ahead of the Australian Open. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic’s former coach, fellow tennis great Boris Becker, says criticism of the world no.1 has begun to go too far.

The Serbian star was slammed shortly after arriving to quarantine in Adelaide for emailing a list of recommendations to Australia Open boss Craig Tiley, asking for special treatment for the 72 players caught in hard quarantine.

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Those players had the misfortune of being aboard charter flights with passengers infected with the coronavirus, meaning they were not allowed to leave quarantine for training, as had previously been organised with the Victorian state government.

Djokovic defended the use of his ‘hard-earned’ privileges to act in the best interests of the players as a whole, insisting he was not being ‘selfish’.

While the eight-time Australian Open winner didn’t get far with his list of requests, his former coach Becker said he had not asked for anything unreasonable.

“The points he wrote down were absolutely right and legitimate,” Becker told Eurosport.

“You get the feeling Djokovic can do whatever he wants at the moment, he just gets a lot of criticism (no matter what).

Boris Becker says the level of criticism directed at Novak Djokovic over his hotel quarantine requests was out of proportion. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Boris Becker says the level of criticism directed at Novak Djokovic over his hotel quarantine requests was out of proportion. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“In this case, really unjustified. He wanted to stand up for the players, just wanted to create fair conditions for everyone, but was sharply criticised, even by the prime minister of the country.

“I think it’s important for Australia and especially Melbourne that the players come to Melbourne. It’s good for the city and for the economy. The country and the city benefit and then you have to treat the players more fairly and respectfully.”

Extra WTA tournament for lockdown players

An extra women's tennis tournament catering for players serving 14-day hard lockdowns in Melbourne will be added to the calendar ahead of next month's Australian Open.

It means six tournaments will be staged simultaneously early next month ahead of the Open, which is due to begin on February 8.

There will now be three WTA 500 events with the two originally planned to run from Sunday, January 31 to Saturday, February 6 now having slightly reduced draw sizes.

The new tournament will be staged from February 3 until February 7 and will cater for players who have not been able to train.

Two ATP tournaments will be pushed back 24 hours to start on Monday, February 1 and the ATP Cup will get underway a day later.

A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after three chartered flights to the Australian Open returned positive COVID-19 case.

They include former Australian Open champions Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber as well as 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu.

With AAP

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