Novak Djokovic has raised a bit of a storm in the tennis world over the past few weeks. First, the World No. 1 criticized the new rules proposed at the US Open with regard to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, calling them 'extreme'. Shortly after that he played host to the first stage of the Adria Tour of exhibition tournaments, where the social mingling of the attendees raised quite a few eyebrows.
Held in Novak Djokovic's hometown city of Belgrade, the Adria Tour was allowed to go on like business as usual. There were packed crowds, full press meets and no apparent restrictions to safeguard against the novel coronavirus. Novak Djokovic, and everyone else who participated, have come under intense scrutiny for disregarding social distancing norms.
"I saw him taking photos with everyone and shaking hands with the authorities during the presentation of the Adria Tour. How can this be possible? In which part of the world is he authorized?"
The World No. 7 further went on to express her desire for the tour to return, but said the authorities must decide on the same with caution.
"If someone tests positive for coronavirus, our sport would be stained forever," Bertens warned.
Will Novak Djokovic play the US Open?
On Tuesday, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that the US Open will go ahead from 31 August to 13 September with appropriate restrictions in place. But speculation is afoot about whether or not Novak Djokovic will arrive at Flushing Meadows this year, given that he had expressed his displeasure at the new regulations earlier.
Novak Djokovic received a considerable amount of criticism from fans and ex-pros for his opposition to the restrictions. And his unrestrained socializing during the Aria Tour seems to reinforce the idea that he doesn't think strict social distancing is necessary anymore - at least not in Serbia.
A few players have voiced their displeasure at the Serb's comments too. American Noah Rubin launched a scathing attack on Novak Djokovic recently, suggesting that the World No. 1 was unaware of the ground realities.
"You’re complaining that the physios at the ATP might not be good enough for your two weeks there? Like shut the f*** up. Just understand what is actually taking place," Rubin said..
Former Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins more or less echoed Rubin's thoughts, while Patrick McEnroe also laid into both Djokovic and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal for expressing reservations about the US Open.
"Don’t go by what Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic say. They’re the rich getting richer and their views are skewed," McEnroe said.
In the days since, the World No. 1 has seemingly done an about-turn. Speaking to the media after the end of the Belgrade stage of the Adria Tour, the Serb expressed hope for the US Open to take place this year.
"What the situation is going to look like now in our calendar after coronavirus, we don't know," Djokovic said. "We don't know when the season is going to resume. We're all doing our best so that it'll be at the US Open already, on hard court."