Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have been slammed for their ‘silence’ over the conditions facing Australian Open players amid a coronavirus lockdown. Novak Djokovic was this week criticised after he made a series of demands to tournament organisers.
Djokovic wrote to Australian Open chief Craig Tiley complaining about conditions – even asking players being moved to private houses with access to tennis courts.
His demands came after 72 players were put in strict isolation after positive tests were returned from the flights that took players and coaches Down Under last week.
Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem are currently in Adelaide, and are due to play in an exhibition tournament before joining the rest of the tour in Melbourne.
But while the world No1 was blasted for speaking out, Nadal and reigning Australian Open champion Thiem have been criticised by Argentine player Guido Pella for not doing so.
Pella, a Wimbledon quarter-finalist, is also unhappy that players in Adelaide appear to have better conditions than those in Melbourne.
“These (Melbourne and Adelaide) are two completely different realities,” Pella told the Bola Amarela podcast.
“I’ve seen pictures and the balcony at Novak Djokovic is bigger than my room. But I find the silence of Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal strange.”
And while Djokovic’s demands have not gone down well in all quarters, Pella defended the Serb, saying “at least he speaks up”.
“Djokovic at least gets involved,” Pella said. “He may make mistakes but at least he speaks up. I can’t vouch for anyone but at least he shows intention.”
Djokovic wrote to Australian Open CEO Tiley with six demands over conditions, including for better food and training facilities to be made available to all players being forced to quarantine in hotel rooms.
He also wanted to see the number of days players have to isolate for to be reduced from 14 with regular testing made available, and permission for them to visit with their coach or physical trainer, as long as they’ve both tested negative.
Nick Kyrgios branded Djokovic ‘a tool’, while doubles legend Todd Woodbridge said he was “not right” to make such demands of Tiley.
But Djokovic has since defended his stance, saying: “I genuinely care about my fellow players and I also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why.
“I’ve earned my privileges the hard way and for that reason, it is very difficult for me to be a mere onlooker knowing how much every help, gesture, and good work mattered to me when I was small and insignificant in the world pecking order.
“Hence, I use my position of privilege to be on service as much as I can where and when needed.”