Novak Djokovic was unable to buy a friend on Wednesday, at least not outside his narrow circle of confidants and family in Belgrade, where the dispute over his virus-affected Balkan charity fortnight further slipped into denial and resentment.
First at his side was his father, Srdjan, who tried to blame the fiasco on Grigor Dimitrov, the first of three other players to test positive for coronavirus in Croatia, where the two-week tour was abandoned minutes before the final. on Sunday.
“How did the infection arise?” Djokovic Sr said on the Croatian television network RTL. “Probably because Dimitrov came in sick, who knows where. It was not tested in Zadar, but elsewhere. I don’t think it’s correct. It caused great damage in Croatia, to us as a family and to Serbia. ”
The Bulgarian’s agent, Georgi Stoimenov, responded acidly: “Grigor landed directly in Belgrade after three months of complete isolation. Nor in Belgrade [the first stop] nor later in Zadar was he offered or asked to perform a coronavirus test. The organizers of the event are responsible. “Djokovic’s mother, Dijana, told the Blic newspaper in Belgrade:” What is being written is horrible, but we are used to it. “
Meanwhile, at Wimbledon, the new regime adopted a kinder but firmer vision of its clumsy 2019 champion, who is quarantined in his hometown for two weeks as he faces Covid-19, along with his wife, and contemplates the evaporation of goodwill. launched his well-intentioned company.
Richard Lewis, who surrenders to All England Club chief executive officer Sally Bolton in August, said the protocols at the US Open in August and Roland Garros in September “will be easier to apply and observe than they might have been. been” . And, although she avoided saying that Djokovic had a special responsibility with the game as a starter, she said: “It is a fact in this day and age that all athletes and athletes have a leadership role that goes with the territory.” It’s disappointing “.
The notion that the virus itself has overlooked the Balkans came under additional scrutiny on Wednesday when another high-profile Serbian athlete, NBA star Nikola Jokic, had to delay his return to the United States after give positive. Jokic spent time with Djokovic during the Belgrade stage of the Adria Tour.
Furthermore, five Belgrade Red Star footballers revealed that they had contracted the virus 12 days after playing in the local derby against Partizan in front of a crowd of 18,000 people on June 10, approximately when Djokovic’s tour began in the Serbian capital. Neighboring Montenegro, which had been declared virus-free, then confirmed a minor outbreak there after fans returned from the Belgrade football match.
There was little respite for world number 1 anywhere outside of Serbia. Paul Annacone, who has coached Roger Federer and Andy Murray, told Sports Illustrated: “I think there are a lot of his teammates who are scratching their heads. His passion for doing something good clouded all the information, all the science. It was a good cause, driven by the right reason, but the end result was quite disastrous. “
There are now more and more calls for Djokovic to step down as chairman of the ATP players council. Annacone said: “There are 10 people on the council; You should imagine how you feel about it. You have 500 players from all over the world at the cutting edge, hoping they can play in eight weeks. [at the US Open]. Every action has a consequence. “
World No. 35 Guido Pella is the last player to lead Djokovic to the task. “He played with the health of many people and crossed a line from which it will be difficult to return, without respecting the world of tennis and the whole planet,” it is quoted on tennisworldusa.org. “I don’t know how it’s going to get out of this.”
For Djokovic, the party that rumbled cheerfully at a Belgrade nightclub two weekends ago ended. But the hangover persists.