Novak Djokovic savaged over Australian Open quarantine demands

Novak Djokovic, pictured here arriving in Adelaide before heading straight to hotel quarantine.
Novak Djokovic arrives in Adelaide before heading straight to hotel quarantine. (Photo by BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has reportedly sent a series of demands to Australian Open boss Craig Tiley after a further 25 players were forced into hard quarantine on Sunday.

A total of 72 players arriving for the Australian Open will be confined to their hotel rooms for the next 14 days after three chartered flights returned five positive COVID-19 cases.

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A fifth person, who had flown into Melbourne on an Australian Open charter flight from Doha, tested positive on Sunday night after arriving on Saturday.

It means three Australian Open charter flights have now brought in passengers who later tested positive, following infections on planes from Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi.

A number of players have hit out at the conditions they are faced with for the next 14 days, unable to train or see their coaches in preparation for the first tennis grand slam of the year.

That has prompted men’s World No.1 Djokovic - the former head of the ATP Player Council - to reportedly send a letter to officials calling for changes.

According to Spanish journalist Fernando Murciego, Djokovic has called for the following changes:

  • Fitness and training material in all rooms

  • Decent food, according to the level of the tournament and from an elite athlete

  • Reduce the days of isolation for the 72 isolated players, carrying out more tests that confirm that all are negative

  • Permission to visit your coach or physical trainer, as long as both have passed the PCR

  • If the previous proposal has the green light, that both the player and his coach are on the same floor of the hotel

  • Move as many players as possible to private houses with a court to train

However Djokovic’s reported demands haven’t been received well among fans and commentators, especially considering his role in the infamous Adria Tour debacle.

“Points 3 to 6 have zero chance of happening. Absolutely none. And, it’s fair to say Djokovic’s opinion on Covid-19 protocols count for zilch,” wrote Shane McInnes on Twitter.

Fellow journalist Mark Gottlieb wrote: “You know who we shouldn’t be listening to about covid protocols for a tennis tournament? ... Novak ‘Adria Tour’ Djokovic.”

“Just for the record there is 0% chance of some of these proposals are taken on board.”

Players breaking rules in hotel quarantine

All international players were originally given an exemption to train for up to five hours a day but the test results have forced the three affected flights into stricter quarantine under Victorian government orders, prompting complaints of unfair advantage for the others.

The coach of 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Sylvain Bruneau, confirmed he was one of the four cases.

Training has been put on hold for all quarantined players pending final test results, although all players and their training partners have been cleared of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar said that police presence had been increased at the Open hotels and added that there had been cases of "challenging behaviour" from some confined players and support staff.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals in November.
Novak Djokovic at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals in November. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

She cited two cases when they opened their doors to have a conversation or shout down the hallway.

“There is zero tolerance for breaches,” she said.

“It's low level but dangerous acts that we just can't tolerate.”

Cassar warned they could be fined up to $20,000 or repeat offenders transferred to the complex care hotel where they have a police officer stationed outside their door.

Some players in hard lockdown are calling for the February 8 Australian Open start date to be pushed back to ensure they have adequate time to prepare.

But Tiley ruled out another date change.

“We are planning on February the eighth ... and our intention is to continue with those dates,” Tiley told Nine Network's Today Show.

with AAP

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