Boris Becker has returned serve over unstinting criticism of Novak Djokovic and the Serb’s hard-luck Adria Tour.

Becker, a former coach of the world No. 1, told a Russian website that the Serb needed a break after copping a boatload of cutting remarks thanks to positive virus tests  – including himself and his wife – at the now-cancelled exhibition in the Balkans.

The matches in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia over two weekends, were played in full 4,000-fan stadiums with maskless spectators in close physical contact. Players mingled freely around the grounds and attended a wrapup party at a crowded disco; they also played basketball..

“I want to defend Novak Djokovic,” Becker said. “I think the criticism he gets is unfair. The reason (charity) why everybody showed up was the right one.”

The 52-year-old German added: “I agree that maybe the party and basketball wasn’t necessary.

“But I used to be 30 years old and when I see my friends I like to enjoy myself a little.. with the cameras in this day and age it’s always dangerous.

“I understand the temptation but I think it was done for the right reasons and so we should hope that all players affected and everybody involved gets healthy and back on their feet and the tennis tour will resume with safety.”

Djokovic is under 14-day quarantine with fellow players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also testing positive. In addition, Djokovic’s current coach Goran Ivanisevic earned a positive while non-symptomatic competitor Marin Cilic is isolating out of an abundance of caution.


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