World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said he has been the subject of a “witch hunt” by his critics since several players tested positive for the coronavirus during his regional Adria Tour tennis event last month.
Djokovic also admitted on Wednesday to being uncertain as to whether he will participate in the U.S. Open, scheduled from Aug. 31-Sept. 13.
The 33-year-old Djokovic came under fire after images and videos of players embracing at the net, playing basketball together and partying at the tournament were revealed on social media during the Adria Tour event. Spectators weren’t wearing masks and didn’t practice social distancing.
“I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious,” Djokovic was quoted in Wednesday’s issue of Serbia’s daily Sportski Zurnal.
“It’s obviously more than just criticism, it’s like an agenda and a witch hunt are on,” the 17-time Grand Slam champion said. “Someone has to take the fall, a big name.”
Djokovic, fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Croatian Borna Coric all tested positive for the coronavirus during that time.
“My intention was pure, I was wholeheartedly committed to organizing a humanitarian event to help players and tennis federations in the (Balkan) region,” Djokovic said. “We complied with all the laws and regulations. But we’ve learned our lessons and some things could have probably been done in a different way.”
Djokovic also told Sportski Zurnal that he is not sure if he’s going to participate in the U.S. Open in New York.
“I still haven’t decided whether I will play in the U.S. Open, the upsurge in registered COVID-19 cases in the United States and New York in particular are not playing into the event’s hands,” he said.
On Wednesday, the United States surpassed 3 million cases of the coronavirus.
(Field Level Media)