Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour has put tennis further behind where it started back in April. It poses a huge threat to the return of the sport in 2020.
The future of tennis is very murky following the huge mishap of the Adria Tour. It was announced Saturday that Grigor Dimitrov had tested positive for COVID-19. This was a huge hit for the tour and the event was scrapped immediately after the news went public.
It only got worse from that point forward, as Borna Coric (Dimitrov’s Saturday opponent) also tested positive, as well as two coaches at the event (Dimitrov’s coach and Djokovic’s fitness coach).
It was then reported that Victor Troicki, a player that competed only in Belgrade, had contracted the virus alongside his wife, only cementing that the virus had been present since the tour’s inaugural week in Serbia but hadn’t been dealt with properly.
The cherry on top came this morning with the news that Novak Djokovic, World #1 and tournament director of the Adria Tour, officially tested positive. After not getting tested in Croatia, instead opting to return to Serbia, he was tested there and received his positive result.
Djokovic’s reputation has come under fire ever since the tour’s official announcement and has been burning ever since. His many mistakes have only lit the flame higher under Djokovic’s seat as a respected player on tour.
There were no signs of masks anywhere at the event and no social distancing whatsoever. In a sport where distancing and staying safe have shown to be effective (see UTShowdown, Battle of the Brits, etc), the Adria Tour showed none of it. From player parties to non-mandatory virus tests, the events were Djokovic’s failure to break the barriers of “quarantine tennis”.
Tennis has a plan in place for an official August return but it’s likely that the ATP, WTA, and players all need to re-evaluate this decision. The Adria Tour’s mistakes have put tennis further behind from where it started back in mid-April. Exhibition events popped up throughout the shutdown and had no issues with the virus. The Adria Tour, however, set tennis back many steps with its slew of positive tests.
Djokovic is not only the number one player in the world for the ATP but also the president of tennis’ player association. He’s the gold standard for players as the sport’s best player and spokesperson. However, with decisions and actions like these, Djokovic isn’t setting a good example.
He had good intentions but rushing tennis back to normalcy wasn’t the right move. While the push for fans in countries with eased restrictions could have been up for debate, player safety should have been at the top of the list, and the way the players handled the tournament was nothing more than tragic mistake after tragic mistake.
“Everything we did in the past month, we did it with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament was meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region.”
This was part of Djokovic’s statement regarding the Adria Tour this morning. Djokovic was sincere in his sorrow and disappointment for how the event played out. It was a major misfire in his hopes to “unite” tennis and bring play back to normalcy as soon as possible.
As a result, Djokovic allowed tennis to contract its first cases of COVID-19. 4 of the game’s best players, 2 coaches, and 2 wives have all tested positive in a span of three days after months of zero cases in the sport. It’s truly a shame to see tennis in this light.
This will all surely bring the future into question. How will tennis respond to multiple players, all of whom likely competing in the majority of events scheduled for the rest of the 2020 season, testing positive for a virus that has singlehandedly shut down every sport? In the NBA, it took only one player (Rudy Gobert) to shut down every major league around the world.
Yes, tennis is more socially distant than basketball, but with four majors players all testing positive, it could open up the debate to extend the tennis shutdown, possibly through the end of 2020.