Australian Open boss' crucial denial after Novak Djokovic debacle

·5-min read
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley says he will not resign over the farcical Australian Open controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic in the lead-up to the grand slam. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)
Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley says he will not resign over the farcical Australian Open controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic in the lead-up to the grand slam. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has vowed he will not resign from his position and that Tennis Australia are 'moving on' from the embarrassing Novak Djokovic saga prior to the grand slam.

The two weeks leading up to the season-opening slam were completely overshadowed by Djokovic's arrival and subsequent legal battles with the Australian government.

'OVER THE MOON': Maddison Inglis in stunning Australian Open career first

FAREWELL: Sad scenes as Sam Stosur's singles career ends at Aus Open

Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, had his visa cancelled upon arriving in Melbourne earlier in January after he was unable to provide border officials with correct documentation supporting his exemption from the federal government's requirement that all travellers from overseas be fully vaccinated.

A lengthy legal challenge eventually resulted in Djokovic being deported from Australia last Friday.

Tiley, who was booed by sections of the crowd when presenting retiring champion Sam Stosur with a bunch of flowers to commemorate her final Australian Open appearance, said there was no prospect of him stepping down from the role of Tennis Australia CEO.

In the interview with Australian Open broadcaster Channel 9, Tiley also denied Tennis Australia had footed any of Djokovic's legal bills.

Tiley brushed aside a question regarding whether or not Tennis Australia had advised Djokovic outside of the guidelines provided to them by the federal government, as well as a question about whether or not they had inadvertently given Djokovic conflicting advice.

Asked about the reports of legal bills being footed, Tiley was blunt.

"I have seen those reports today and we don‘t really go into the detail of financial arrangements we have with players but those reports are simply untrue," he said.

Similarly, he was unequivocal when asked if he would resign.

"No. We put a statement out recently. I am very focused today on delivering a great event," he said.

"I am proud of being able to stand up here and you can see what is behind us, I am proud of what the team has done and what we have delivered so far.

"We have had four days of unbelievable tennis and great entertainment and we will have that for the next 10 days."

Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2015.
Novak Djokovic and Craig Tiley at the Australian Open in 2015. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Tennis fans unconvinced by Craig Tiley interview

The broader tennis world held a raised eyebrow to Tiley's interview, with some noting that Tennis Australia still had questions to answer regarding what advice they gave to Djokovic.

High profile tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg said Tiley's insistence that the organisation had already answered every question was dubious at best.

"'We've addressed that and we're moving on" is not going to be a remotely satisfactory answer from Craig Tiley when it comes to the fallout of the Djokovic debacle and Tennis Australia's major role in it," he posted on Twitter.

"There will be a need for Tiley to face more independent media on these topics as well if he intends to keep his job as he said."

Likewise, Australian sportswriter Courtney Walsh was equally skeptical.

"The Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley says he will not be stepping aside. Denies they have paid (Djokovic's) legal fees," he wrote.

But claims every question regarding the process in terms of the saga has been answered. To suggest that is contestable would be an understatement."

In an explosive new twist to the saga on Thursday, The Sun is reporting that Djokovic is weighing up a $6 million lawsuit against the Australian government.

The $6 million sum reportedly includes the prize money that Djokovic could have potentially won had he been allowed to defend his Australian Open title.

Novak Djokovic could be risking being banned from Australia for as long as three years, legal experts have warned ahead of him challenging his visa cancellation in court. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic is reportedly considring legal action over the visa saga that overshadowed Australian Open preparations and resulted in him being deported. (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Sun quoted a 'source close to Djokovic's agent' Edoardo Artladi as saying: “It’s well known that Novak and his family feel he was poorly treated in the quarantine hotel in Melbourne.

“His mother revealed how it was full of fleas and maggots. He was kept a virtual prisoner.”

Lawyer Toma Fila said: “He was subjected to humiliating treatment. He should sue.”

Djokovic was detained in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne for five days during his nightmare stay in the country.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.