After Novak Djokovic received criticism for his request that Australian tennis official adjust their COVID-19 quarantine protocols, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player defended his actions Wednesday as being well-intentioned.
Dozens of players are being confined to their hotel rooms for 14days ahead of the year's first major tournament, the Australian Open, which starts Feb. 8 in Melbourne.
Djokovic sent a list of suggestions to Tennis Australia chief executive officer Craig Tiley, who also runs the Australian Open. According to 7News in Victoria, Australia, Djokovic asked for players to be relocated to houses with tennis courts, given improved food, granted access to be with coaches and have their number of days in quarantine lowered.
The letter drew condemnation from some other tennis players, including Nick Kyrgios, who tweeted, "Djokovic is a tool."
Djokovic responded Wednesday with a lengthy series of tweets.
"My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful," Djokovic wrote. "This couldn't be farther from the truth.
"Not every act is taken at its face value and at times when I see the aftermath of things, I do tend to ask myself if I should just sit back and enjoy my benefits instead of paying attention to other people's struggles. However, I always choose to do something and be of service despite the challenging consequences and misunderstandings."
He added, "There were a few suggestions and ideas that I gathered from other players from our chat group and there was no harm intended to try and help. I was aware that the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted, just like my request to quarantine with my team in Melbourne instead of Adelaide, was denied prior to our travel, because of the strict government regulations. ...
"Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak, and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine. I am very sorry that it has come to that because I do know how grateful many are. We all came to Australia to compete.
"Not being able to train and prepare before the tournament starts is really not easy. None of us ever questioned 14 days of quarantine despite what is being said by media outlets."
Tiley acknowledged that men's and women's star players, who are quarantining in Adelaide instead of Melbourne, are receiving some perks.
"The top players do have better living conditions because they have a balcony," Tiley said. "I get the feeling that it's perceived as preferential treatment, but they're the top players in the world, it was an advantage for us to get the additional quarantining space and it's a great opportunity for Adelaide and they deserve it.
"My general rule is that if you're at the top of the game, a grand slam champion, it's just the nature of the business -- you are going to get a better deal."
--Field Level Media