'Came off wrong': Aussie public urged to give Djokovic 'another chance'

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, World No.1 Novak Djokovic is seen quarantining before the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic's list of quarantine suggestions were met with fierce backlash by the public. Pic: Getty

Novak Djokovic's controversial Australian Open comments "just came off wrong" according to tennis legend Jim Courier, who is urging the public to give the World No.1 another chance.

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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Originally reported as a set of demands from the 17-time grand slam winner, Tiley later revealed that Tennis Australia welcomed such suggestions from Djokovic.

Djokovic wanted the days of isolation for players reduced, the ability for players to see their coach or trainer, and as many players as possible moved to private houses with a tennis court to facilitate training.

The eight-time Australian Open winner went on to say he'd "earned" his status in the world of tennis and wanted to use his "position of privilege to be of service" to other players.

The Serb's comments led to a flurry of criticism from the Australian public, many of whom urged the 33-year-old to put his gripes into perspective with the amount of suffering around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios also branded Djokovic a "tool" on social media in what is becoming a lengthy list of attacks on the Serbian star.

However, commentator and former World No.1 Courier says the backlash was unfair against Djokovic, who he insists was only looking out for his fellow competitors.

“Novak has gone out of his way to stand up for other players in Australia,” Courier told Nine News.

“He was being a leader and it just came off wrong in the public and I hope the Australian public will give him another chance to at least explain himself.”

Djokovic's standing in the public eye has suffered after his ill-fated Adria Tour during the height of the coronavirus pandemic - an event Kyrgios was particularly scathing about.

The World No.1 and several other tennis star tested positive for the virus after being photographed openly flouting coronavirus protocols.

The 33-year-old was also roundly condemned over his infamous US Open disqualification for hitting a ball that hit a female line judge in he face.

Jim Courier is seen here speaking to Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open.
Jim Courier says he thinks a lot of the criticism aimed at Novak Djokovic is unfair. Pic: Getty

Tennis greats give Djokovic their backing

Courier says it's a shame that such things have detracted from the Serb's incredible achievements on the court.

“He is sensitive to public opinion,” Courier added.

“He spends energy trying to court public opinion and based on what he’s done on the court he should be a huge fan favourite - he’s just come up at a time that a lot of the fan base have decided they’re a Roger (Federer) fan or a Rafa (Nadal) fan.”

Djokovic's former coach Boris Becker has also given the Serb his backing, insisting that the World No.1's Australian Open requests were not unreasonable.

“The points he wrote down were absolutely right and legitimate,” the six-time grand slam winner told Eurosport.

Boris Becker is pictured here clapping during a tennis match.
Boris Becker says the level of criticism directed at Novak Djokovic is out of line. Pic: Getty

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

“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.”

Djokovic insists he was not being "selfish, difficult and ungrateful" in speaking out about quarantine conditions for players.

In a long social media post he wrote: "My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

"I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why.

"I've earned my privileges the hard way and for that reason it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture and good word mattered to me when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order.

"Hence I use my position of privilege to be of service as much as I can where and when needed."

with agencies

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