Trial by Social Media is still divided over Novak Djokovic’s role in “Adriagate” though still heavily weighted in favour of “guilty as charged’
For the “prosecution” Paul Annacone, former coach to multiple Grand Slam winners Roger Federer and Pete Sampras and also Britain’s Tim Henman has criticised Djokovic for the “disastrous” Adria Tour, though “his intentions were good”
The event crashed and burned when several players, including Djokovic himself and staff members tested positive for Covid-19, following social media postings of energetic and steamy partying in a Belgrade night club followed by non-socially distanced encounters with and between fans on matchdays.
The subsequent shouts of “told you so” reverberated around the tennis bubble.
Much travelled and respected coach Annacone told Sports Illustrated “I think there’s a lot of his peer group who are scratching their heads,”
He also fears that the Adria Tour debacle may have far reaching consequences for players, many of whom could have had the confidence in their safety dented.
“There’s 10 people on the player council; they should figure how they feel about it,” he added.
“You have 500 players around the world on a razor’s edge now, hoping they can play in eight weeks at the US Open. Every action has a consequence.”
“Djokovic’s passion to do something good clouded all the information, all the science.
“It was a good cause, driven by the right reason, but the end result was pretty disastrous”
Also speaking for “the prosecution” is veteran enfant terrible of the 1970’s and former world number 1 Ilie Natase. He was never shy about brushing with authority,and has heavily criticised the decision made by the current leader of the ATP Tour to organize the controversial exhibition event in the first place.
In an interview for a Romanian publication, Năstase attacked the Serbian’s lack of responsibility over the Adria Tour saying “He knew that it was a risk since there were so many spectators there.
“When everyone else in the world is crazy and he is smart, this is what happens. I do not wish for anyone to get hurt, but if you take such a decision you have to own it,” Năstase told Newsweek Romania.
Furthermore Năstase said he “saw no well-founded argument in commencing Adria Tour in the first place, especially as the event was just an exhibition”
”If everyone abides by the rules and it is true what everyone says – that the virus is very dangerous – then we have to respect the rules. But if you don’t want to respect, then you need to pay.
“Why did Djokovic need this tournament? He hadn’t had enough money? He couldn’t play alone with another boy? This tournament was useless, especially as it wasn’t something official.”
One voice for “the defence” came from near neighbour Croatian tennis star Donna Vekic the WTA number 24. She defeated Maria Sharapova in her last ever match before retiring. Vekic insists the Adria Tour was an amazing project on paper but unfortunately it ended in disaster. Djokovic, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, had been planning for quite some time to organize a tour around the Balkans and he saw a perfect opportunity to pull it off while the ATP Tour was suspended.
Main photo:- Novak Djokovic promotes his ill-fated curtailed Adria Tour