A month ago, Novak Djokovic was blamed for being the reason behind several tennis players and coaches testing positive for COVID-19. The outbreak occurred at the Adria Tour, a tournament that was organized by the Serb and his family for charitable purposes.
The 17-time Major winner attracted an array of criticism for the lack of basic safety precautions in both Belgrade and Zadar. Novak Djokovic and Co failed to encourage wearing of masks and proper social distancing among the players and fans, and at one point were even seen dancing shirtless in a nightclub.
The Serbian star apologized for his mistake, but the public opinion about him hasn't improved much in the days since. Many tennis personalities have also spoken out against Djokovic's lack of self-awareness at the Adria Tour, the most vocal of whom have been Nick Kyrgios and Noah Rubin.
However, there have also been a few people - especially from Serbia and its surrounding regions - who have come to Djokovic's defense. Joining that list is Russian-American pianist Lola Astanova, who in a dialogue with Blick praised Novak Djokovic's good-hearted efforts.
Novak Djokovic made everyone feel special: Lola Astanova
Despite having noble objectives, Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour kicked up a storm after it was revealed that four players - Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Grigor Dimitrov and Djokovic himself - had tested positive for COVID-19. All the players have since tested negative and are seemingly COVID-19 free now, but the good has been undone in the public's eyes.
Astanova, however, thinks otherwise. She pointed out how the World No. 1 was a great host, and how he made everyone 'feel special'.
"Novak Djokovic is a caring person and although it was clear that he was very busy as the host of the tournament, playing matches, promoting it further, he managed to make everyone feel special and welcome," Astanova said.
The pianist collaborated with Novak Djokovic during the Belgrade leg of the Adria Tour, and the duo performed several songs to entertain the crowd. Astanova was enthusiastically applauded by the attendees; she played the piano as Djokovic serenaded the crowd in a bid to make them feel at home ahead of his event.
"I like that he thinks and takes care of other people, not only himself," Astanova added. "He is very modest, down-to-earth, and today you rarely come across such qualities in a person."
The pianist's defense of the Serb - coupled with words of empathy from the likes of Dominic Thiem and Borna Coric - suggest that the criticism towards Novak Djokovic may have been a little overdone. While the Serb did commit a grave error of judgment, he never had any ill-will towards the people in attendance.
The America-based pianist was also photographed with the Serb after Adria Tour, and she claimed that she was delighted with the reception given by Novak Djokovic and also with the Serbian capital in general.Published 27 Jul 2020, 18:40 IST