The Adria Tour turned out to be an ill-fated one, because a number of players, including Novak Djokovic himself, have tested COVID-19 positive. But Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has championed his Serbian compatriot Djokovic for hosting it.
Matic said they weren’t required to adhere to any social distancing norms as Serbia had eased restrictions.
“People need to understand that the situation in Serbia was better than here in England,” Matic told Sky Sports. “The country allowed everyone to do whatever they wanted, everything was open, the shopping centers and the restaurants.
“So they started living normal lives because our country had been completely closed for three months. You were not allowed to walk down the street, you couldn’t leave your home, so it was different (than England).”
The world number one (Djokovic) himself contracted the virus. His coach Goran Ivanisevic and players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also returned positive tests on both legs in Serbia and Croatia.
Moreover, while some unofficial tournaments, such as the Battle of the Brits exhibition tournament in London, were played without spectators in the stands, the Adriatic Tour attracted a crowd of capacity in Belgrade’s Serbian capital.
“They said when they opened, ‘you are more than free to do whatever you want’,” added Matic. “There was a game with 20,000 people before this tournament and nobody said anything about it.
“I just wanted to say he didn’t make the tournament his fault, he just wanted to help the players play competitions. I don’t see anything wrong with him (did).”
Players were also seen interacting, embracing each other, playing basketball and partying as they did in pre-COVID-19 days.
Djokovic was thus criticized for hosting the tennis tournament in the midst of a pandemic.