Novak Djokovic insists his letter to Australian Open organisers has been 'misconstrued' after a heavy backlash to his suggestions on how to support players in quarantine. Following a raft of charter flights from Los Angeles, Doha and Abu Dhabi over the weekend, 72 players are confined to their hotel rooms in Melbourne after positive coronavirus tests. A number of stars have expressed criticism at the handling of the situation which means they are unable to practise for two weeks ahead of next month’s Australian open. In a letter to tournament director Craig Tiley, men’s World No 1 Djokovic asked for the isolation time to be reduced, better food and for players to see their coaches. Novak Djokovic vs Australia only has one winner These requests were swiftly rejected and drew condemnation from Australian politicians. Djokovic is in Adelaide, where he has been able to train and kick-start his preparations for the opening grand slam of the year. And in a statement on social media, the Serbian defended himself and offered an apology for comments made by players. "My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful," he wrote. "This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not every act is taken at its face value and at times when I see the aftermath of things I do tend to ask myself if I should just sit back and enjoy my benefits instead of paying attention to other people’s struggles. "However I always choose to do something and be of service despite the challenging consequences and misunderstandings. "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. I have always had a very good relationship with Craig and I respect and appreciate all the effort he puts into making the Australian Open a place to look forward to coming back to each year. "In our email exchange I used an opportunity to brainstorm about potential improvements that could be made to the quarantine of players in Melbourne that were in full lockdown. "There were a few suggestions and ideas that I gathered from other players from our chat group and there was no harm intended to try and help. I was aware that the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted, just like the the request to quarantine with my team in Melbourne instead of Adelaide, was denied prior to our travel, because of the strict government regulations. Since I couldn’t be with other players in Melbourne, I made myself available if needed." Novak Djokovic has once again showcased his talent for striking the wrong tone Earlier in the day, Tiley defended Tennis Australia amid claims of preferential treatment to the likes of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. "I get the feeling it is perceived as preferential treatment," Tiley told reporters in Australia. “But they’re the top players in the world. My general rule is if you’re at the top of the game, a Grand Slam champion, it’s just the nature of the business. You are going to get a better deal."
Tennis coach Daniel Vallverdu says players who have been locked down in their hotel rooms for 14 days ahead of the Australian Open should get preferential treatment from organizers such as prime practice times and matches scheduled in the cooler hours of the day. More than 70 players are confined to their rooms and unable to train for the Feb. 8-21 Grand Slam after passengers on three charter flights carrying them to Melbourne tested positive for the novel coronavirus. While those in hard quarantine are left to hit balls against mattress in their rooms, the other arrivals are able to spend five hours a day outside to prepare.
Two more Australian Open players have tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities revealed on Wednesday, taking to the number of cases linked to the tennis tournament to 10. It is the latest blow to preparations for the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne - which has already be delayed by three weeks due to the pandemic. A string of infections detected by Australian authorities have forced 72 players to be confined to their hotel rooms 24 hours a day for two weeks. Victoria state police minister Lisa Neville said a total of four more people associated with the tournament had tested positive since Tuesday. "One of those is a player who has absolutely been in hard lockdown because he came in on one of the flights where we had positives," she told reporters.