Nick Kyrgios calls Djokovic ‘a tool’ over Covid demands before Australian Open

Nick Kyrgios has joined the former Davis Cup player Sam Groth in criticising Novak Djokovic after the world No 1 reportedly wrote to Australian Open organisers asking them to ease quarantine restrictions for players.

Passengers who arrived on three charter flights have been placed into quarantine, including more than 70 players who are unable to train outside their rooms for 14 days before the year’s first grand slam tournament starts on 8 February.

A Spanish tennis website reported that Djokovic wrote to the Tennis Australia chief executive, Craig Tiley, with a list of “demands”, asking for reduced isolation periods and having players moved to “private houses with tennis courts”.

Djokovic’s management team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kyrgios criticised Djokovic in 2020 for organising the Adria Tour exhibition event in the Balkans, where multiple players including the top-ranked Serb contracted the virus.

“Djokovic is a tool,” Kyrgios, ranked 47th in the world, said on Twitter after the latest reports.

Djokovic, who opted to rent a private house instead of staying at a hotel during the 2020 US Open, is among top players who are serving their mandatory quarantine in Adelaide before travelling to Melbourne.

Many Australians have questioned the decision to host the tournament, with organisers flying in 1,200 players and their entourages when thousands of citizens are stranded overseas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Australian Open players forced to isolate in hotel rooms after multiple Covid-19 cases – video
Australian Open players forced to isolate in hotel rooms after multiple Covid-19 cases – video

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said tennis players stuck in isolation in their Melbourne hotel rooms would not be given any special treatment, following questions on Djokovic’s reported demands. Andrews told local media at a press conference: “People are free to provide a list of demands. But the answer is no … There’s no special treatment here.”

Djokovic, who set up the breakaway Professional Tennis Players’ Association last year after resigning as the head of ATP’s Players Council, was looking to gain popularity, said the Australian Groth.

“Is he serious ” he wrote in his column for the Herald Sun. “What did he think would happen? That (Victoria’s Premier) Dan Andrews would say ‘sure Novak anything you want’? Spare me.”

Groth also pointed to the criticism Djokovic received for organising the Adria Tour in June. “To suggest players should have shorter quarantine isn’t only ridiculous, it’s insulting to Australians that have had to endure it.”

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