Novak Djokovic's recent Australian Open campaign highlighted not just his on-court brilliance, but also his ability to block out all the distractions from his mind. And the latter aspect has been reinforced by none other than Craig Tiley, the CEO of Tennis Australia.
Djokovic endured a tough month in Australia, to say the least. Placed in Adelaide quarantine instead of Melbourne, the Serb received widespread criticism over a reported 'list of demands' he sent to Tiley. He then suffered a muscle tear mid-way through the event, which many accused him of exaggerating.
Despite all that, Novak Djokovic remained steely in his resolve as he put on a masterclass against Daniil Medvedev in the final. That gave Djokovic a record-extending ninth Australian Open title, and firmly established him as the player to beat in 2021.
In a recent interview, Craig Tiley revealed that this was the best he had seen the Serb perform in Melbourne, despite the off-court distractions.
"I must admit this year I found Novak Djokovic the best he’s ever been even though it was a stressful time and he was taking a lot of knocks from people," Tiley said. "I think in many ways he just tries to help others and sometimes just doesn't land on the timing of when to do that. At the end of the day he’s a remarkable athlete."
Unfair criticism because we were having an open dialogue on WhatsApp: Craig Tiley on Novak Djokovic's 'list of demands'
Craig Tiley, who had come to Novak Djokovic's defence over the 'list of demands' earlier too, threw some additional light on the controversy. Tiley first reiterated that the list merely consisted of suggestions, which the Serb had sent as part of a WhatsApp chat.
Tiley then went on to add that the WhatsApp conversation was leaked without consent, which is how the whole matter got misreported in the media.
"Behind the scenes, he sent me a WhatsApp message when they were in Adelaide doing their quarantine program," Tiley said. "And he had a bunch of suggestions to try and help the 72 athletes who were in the isolated quarantine here... half of which weren't practical and wouldn’t be allowed and the other half which were possible."
"Then it turned out someone on his own team or someone in the ATP leaked that," Tiley added. "And then it looked like he sent a list of demands which was probably an unfair criticism of him because we were having an open dialogue."