Novak Djokovic has been mercilessly slaughtered in the media after his Adria Tour of exhibition tournaments across the Balkans region led to a string of positive COVID-19 cases.
The World No. 1 was already being heavily criticized for the tour, which was hosted and funded by him and members of his family, for its lack of social distancing and seemingly inadequate health protocols. And when the event ultimately came to an abrupt standstill as Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki, Grigor Dimitrov and Novak Djokovic himself tested positive for the virus, all hell broke loose.
Critics have not been kind to the Serb after the debacle, and have attacked him for a lack of responsibility and concern. Over the last few days, however, he has received some support from a few fellow players.
One such colleague is former Wimbledon semifinalist Richard Gasquet, who has spoken up about how the World No. 1 is not the only one to be blamed.
Smashing Novak Djokovic was too easy, says Richard Gasquet
As reported by Le10Sport, Gasquet is not a fan of the way Novak Djokovic has been treated by his critics. The Frenchman believes the authorities have to take more responsibility for the disaster.
"I don't like the guys who smashed Novak Djokovic, it was too easy," Gasquet said. "At one point, there is a government that sets the rules."
Novak Djokovic had apologized for the entire mess earlier, but last week he came out and said that there was a 'witch-hunt' against him. Gasquet agreed with the Serb on that and said:
"Djokovic, he is not president of the Republic. There are people above him who have decided. He is not the only culprit. Witch-hunting is always very easy. He simply recognized an error."
Players need to decide whether to play the US Open or not: Gasquet
Gasquet also spoke at length on the ongoing debate about the conditions within the United States, and whether or not it is wise to hold the US Open. The Frenchman believes the players need to exercise their own judgment in the matter, and said that he has no problems with the safety restrictions put up by the USTA.
"At some point, it's up to you not to go," the World No. 50 said. "If the US Open takes place and you don't feel like going there, it's your choice. No one puts a knife in your throat."
Many top players have relayed their concerns about playing the US Open. While the likes of Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber have all expressed their reluctance about travelling to the United States (as the virus is still at large), others have voice issues regarding the safety protocols at the tournament.
Novak Djokovic called the restrictions 'too extreme' before the Adria fiasco, and has since claimed he is unsure whether he will be travelling to the United States. World No. 3 Dominic Thiem also recently asserted that 3 or 4 people are required in every player's entourage.
Gasquet, however, believes the players are mature enough to deal with the conditions.
"That's why the idea of a two-year ranking is an intelligent principle," the 34-year-old said. "And when you're there (in New York), you don't cry. In fact, you just have to know the rules 100% before leaving."