Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon looks at the latest health update from Novak Djokovic.
It was all good just a week ago.
Last we spoke in this space, both the men’s and women’s tours had decided that the month of August would be ripe to bring their sport back, settling on a truncated and shortened Summer sprint that would somehow cover both the 2020 US Open and the 2020 French Open. You can keep updated on all the action this Summer through best sport betting sites.
A mere seven days later, things seem to have turned on a dime completely and fully, and maybe this long-awaited return will be put to rest before it ever gets underway?
In the days after tennis had made its announcement, none other than Grigor Dimitrov announced that he had tested positive for the virus that has brought the entire planet to a halt. Dimitrov had participated in the 2020 Adria Tour, an exhibitiona and (as the following few days would prove) wholly unnecessary tennis tournament that Novak Djokovic had been put together and which hoped to accomplish…something?
The aim and goal of this Adria Tour was never fully clear, but what has evidently become crystal clear is how very real its consequences have been. On Tuesday morning last week, the Serb who was behind the event announced that he and his wife Jelena had tested positive for COVID-19.
Yes, really. (It would be funny if it hadn’t all been so utterly and easily avoidable.)
The world number 1 player released a statement on Twitter, which honestly is fairly good when it comes to these kind of things, and sure let’s embed it in full below.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) June 23, 2020
This continues what has been a rather disastrous confinement period for Djokovic. You may recall that earlier this year, he more or less outed himself as an almost-anti-COVID-vaxxer before using his massive Instagram platform to push pseudo-science in weird and, honestly, dangerous ways. We’d be remiss not to mention Djokovic’s father saying dumb and stupid things about both Federer and Dimitrov, something for which he’s been justifiably given a little slap across the hand.
Add it all up, and now this Adria Tour and the resulting cluster of COVID-19 cases it’s likely to have produced, and it’s tough to overstate what a monumental disaster this has all been. It’s one thing to say you’re sorry and that your heart was in the right place when you put together this exhibition tournament—and it very well might have been—but it’s another to do it when you’ve seemingly forgotten everything we’ve come to learn in the past three months about living in the age of a coronavirus disease. You know, things like social distancing and minimization of crowds?
Like it or not, we as fans of the man have to recognize that Djokovic, as the best player in the world if not history, will be blamed for some of the failures of the event that he lent his name to. That’s always been the thing that makes him stand out from his competitors in Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, two champions with as polished a public image as anyone has ever had and two men who very likely would have never been behind something that turned out as disastrous as the Adria Tour simply because the potential risks far outweighed the potential good. By and large, Djokovic sticks his neck for the people or causes he believes in.
Might this fiasco have deep and far-reaching consequences? What do you do if some players test positive at, say, the Western & Southern Open? You’ll say that it’s okay and that they should just sit so that the sport can keep moving. But you are out of your mind if you think tennis will force, say, Nadal to sit and forfeit a fourth-round match in the US Open just because he tested positive. It’s one thing for it to happen to a Dimitrov, whom we love, but it’s another entirely for it to happen to Nadal—or Djokovic for that matter.
Maybe it’s Federer who had it all figured out. Stay home and get ready for 2021, nothing else matters.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG