Novak Djokovic says Australian Open letter written with ‘good intentions’

Novak Djokovic has said his letter calling for better conditions for players self-isolating in Melbourne was written with “good intentions” and has been “misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful”.

Djokovic was criticised after he asked Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley to relax quarantine rules.

Seventy-two players are unable to leave their hotel rooms for 14 days.

The Serb said he acted because he “genuinely cares” about fellow players.

Djokovic reportedly asked for reduced isolation periods and having players in quarantine moved to private houses with tennis courts.

In a lengthy social media postexternal-link, the world number one said he wanted to use his profile to improve conditions for the players, who were forced into quarantine after positive coronavirus test results on flights bound for the event in Australia.

Some players have expressed frustration at being confined to hotel rooms, though Djokovic denied they had questioned the 14-day rule.

“I understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why. I’ve earned my privileges the hard way, and for that reason, it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker,” said Djokovic, who is currently in Adelaide for an exhibition match.

“Things in the media escalated and there was a genuine impression that the players, including myself, are ungrateful, weak and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine.

“I am very sorry that it has come to that because I do know how grateful many are.

“We all came to Australia to compete. Not being able to train and prepare before the tournament starts is really not easy. None of us ever questioned 14 days of quarantine despite what is being said by media outlets.”

Djokovic added that he used an email exchange with Tiley to “brainstorm” and there was “no harm intended” in suggesting “potential improvements” for players in quarantine.

“I have always had a very good relationship with Craig, and I respect and appreciate all the effort he puts into making the Australian Open a place to look forward to coming back to each year,” he said.

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