Former World No 1 Boris Becker has said he is baffled by the backlash against Novak Djokovic and the players who competed in the Adria Tour.
“I don’t understand the criticism,” Becker, who coached Djokovic from 2013 to 2016, told Eurosport.
The Adria Tour, designed as an exhibition charity event by the Novak Djokovic Foundation, had to be stopped mid-way after four players, including Djokovic, tested positive for Coronavirus. The Serb was widely criticized for hosting the tournament with no social distancing measures in place.
“He was hosting the tournament in his native country where the rules and law were different in Great Britain and Germany. If it wouldn’t have been allowed then there couldn’t have been a match, right?
“What was a mistake was certainly the party and players letting loose. Those are 20, 25, 30-year-old people, they had a loose night. Yes they always should be role models, they should always be perfect every single day of the year, but they weren’t that night.
“For all of the players to be criticised as harshly as they were is something beyond belief. Yes six got infected, I think they paid the highest price. They had to quarantine, that was a penalty enough, but the principle of this tour was right and I never understood the criticism.”
The six-time Grand Slam champion said that the tennis world should move on and focus on the sport staging a comeback.
“In hindsight you are always smarter, but at this point we should move on. I’m happy that tennis is back, I’m happy the boys are playing in New York. I think that’s a priority, whatever happened in July we are all smarter now than we were then.”
World No 1 Djokovic, who plays Damir Dzumhur in the opening round, is the favourite on paper at the upcoming US Open. But Becker said it remains to be seen how the Serb will adjust to the conditions and playing in front of empty stands.
“He hasn’t played well in the last couple of Opens,” the German said. Djokovic retired from his fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka at last year’s US Open when he was two sets and a break down.
“His tournament is always the Australian Open, everything else is the icing on the cake. He starts the year wanting to win Melbourne and then whatever comes next is great.
“He hasn’t played as well, it’s new for him, it’s strange for him to play in front of an empty stadium. He feeds off the energy whether they’re for or against him. He likes to play in front of people so I don’t think it’s an advantage at all.”