Novak Djokovic receives apology from tennis club for lockdown goof-up
- While practising in Marbella, Novak Djokovic mistakenly fell foul of Spain's COVID-19 restrictions.
- The World No. 1 has been in Spain for the last three weeks, and will likely resume training next week.
World number one Novak Djokovic unknowingly flouted Spain's COVID-19 lockdown rules during a practice session in a Marbella tennis club. But now he has received an apology from the club for sending the wrong message, which is supposedly what led to the goof-up.
Spain, one of the hardest hit COVID-19 countries in Europe, recently eased the strict restrictions that were in place since mid-March. As per the new rules, professional athletes were allowed to return to practice from 4 May.
However, there was ambiguity in the Spanish government's regulation regarding the easing of restrictions. Despite athletes getting the go-ahead to practise, most training centres and sports facilities were required to remain closed for at least another week.
The Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club didn't interpret the regulation correctly though, and allowed Novak Djokovic to use their courts. The club subsequently said in a statement:
"We are sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous, and this could have inconvenienced Mr. Djokovic or any other citizen acting in good faith."
The club further added that it had received a request from Novak Djokovic to practise, under the understanding that "from May 4 all professional sports players were authorized to train."
On receiving a clarification from the Spanish Tennis Federation, both the Marbella club and Novak Djokovic have agreed to suspend training for another week.
The 32-year-old recently posted a video of him practising with an unknown man on the clay courts in the seaside town of Marbella in Spain.
Djokovic's Instagram post mentioned how happy he was to be able to step on to a clay court and hit a ball or two:
"So happy to play on clay. Well, just for a while with my phone in my hands. I don’t recommend this to any 18- year-old, though."
There was backlash from many corners in response, over what they deemed to be a case of Djokovic flouting the lock-down rules. But now the statement from the club has made it clear that the Serb wasn't at fault for the mistake.
What has Novak Djokovic been up to during the COVID-19 lockdown?
Novak Djokovic regained the World No. 1 ranking after a record eighth title triumph at the Australian Open. A few weeks later, his fifth title win at the Dubai 500 tournament extended his perfect start to the 2020 season to 18-0.
The Serb was looking to continue his good form on his favorite stops at the Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak engulfing USA and large parts of Europe, the ATP Tour was suspended till July 13th.
Novak Djokovic, like all professional tennis players, has been biding his time at home during the COVID-19 lockdown period. The Serb recently caught up with his good friend Andy Murray on an Instagram video chat, and yesterday he also had a video interaction with the recently retired Maria Sharapova.
Djokovic has been fairly active on various social media platforms during the last few months away from the tennis court. The 17-time Grand Slam champion recently announced a series of talk shows in Serbian, on topics ranging from health to sports.
There is little clarity about the resumption of the tour in the face of the evolving COVID-19 crisis. In that context, it could be at least two more months before Novak Djokovic steps out on a tennis court and tries to extend his perfect start to the season.