Novak Djokovic’s father has quickly come to his son’s defence following Tuesday’s bombshell announcement, blaming the coronavirus outbreak at the Adria Tour on another tennis star.
Djokovic revealed he and his wife had tested positive to COVID-19 after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organised in the Balkans region of Europe.
The 33-year-old has been widely criticised for launching the tournament and bringing in players from other countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tennis stars Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki also tested positive for the virus after playing in the tour, which took place in Serbia and Croatia.
There were no social distancing measures observed at the matches in either country, and the 17-time Grand Slam singles champion was also filmed dancing topless at a party in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade.
Novak Djokovic standing alongside Grigor Dimitrov at the Adria Tour.Source: AP
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Although Djokovic was the brainchild behind the controversial tournament, his father Srdjan was adamant Dimitrov was responsible for the outbreak. Srdjan suggested the Bulgarian got infected before the Adria Tour, accusing Dimitrov of causing “great harm” to both nations.
“How did the infection come about? Probably because Dimitrov came sick, who knows where,” Srdjan told broadcaster RTL.
“He was not tested in (the Croatian city of) Zadar, but somewhere else. I don’t think that’s right.
“He brought great harm to you in Croatia, and to us as a family, and to Serbia.”
For precision, here’s the quote from Novak’s dad. “[Dmitrov] brought great harm to you in Croatia, and to us as a family, and to Serbia.” https://t.co/UluLeNkO5b
— Kamakshi Tandon (@Kamakshi_Tandon) June 24, 2020
Dimitrov said he tested positive to COVID-19 on Sunday after losing to Coric during the charity event. The 29-year-old is currently 19th on the ATP rankings, but is yet to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
Srdjan — who also attended the exhibition series in Serbia — promised his superstar son would return to Croatia once the coronavirus epidemic concluded. The final two legs of the Adria Tour were cancelled after Dimitrov announced he had tested positive for the virus.
“Nobody is well, not even my son. We have to come out stronger from this and understand that everything will pass, and in some way we have to protect ourselves,” Srdjan said.
“We will do everything that in the future, when there is a normal time, we will come to Zadar again.”
Srdjan Djokovic (right) pictured with his family at the Adria Tour.Source: Getty Images
Srdjan has never shied away from sharing his controversial opinions with the media — in February, the Serbian took aim at tennis maestro Roger Federer, accusing the Swiss star of jealousy.
“Federer has been jealous of Novak from the moment he made his breakthrough because he knew that my son was better than him and that he would tower over him,” Srdjan told Serbian newspaper Novosti.
“Federer is an outstanding tennis player, but I couldn’t say that about his humanity.”
Srdjan even condemned Australian Open spectators in February, shunning the Melbourne crowd after they cheered for underdog Dominic Thiem during the men’s singles final, which Djokovic eventually won.
“Seven-time Australian Open champion plays on centre court where he never lost any match, in the final, and he plays against some Austrian and they cheer for the Austrian, just imagine that disrespect to Novak,” Srdjan said.
“That’s just unbelievable.
“Cheering against him only gives him additional energy and he will become the best player in history by every parameter.”