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Tennis From Australian Quarantine • Novak Djokovic, Roberto Bautista Agut Try to Clarify Their Comments

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic and Roberto Bautista Agut have tried to clarify their controversial comments regarding the Melbourne quarantine.

Djokovic’s latest saga began last week, when he sent a letter to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley listing a series of requests for players who are under a strict two-week quarantine. The world No. 1, who is living lavishly by comparison in Adelaide, called for improved conditions for everyone.

“My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful,” Djokovic posted on social media. “This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Not every act is taken at its face value and at times when I see the aftermath of things, I do tend to ask myself if I should just sit back and enjoy my benefits instead of paying attention to other people’s struggles. However, I always choose to do something and be of service despite the challenging consequences and misunderstandings.”

Bautista Agut is one of the 72 players who arrived in Melbourne on flights in which someone on board tested positive for Covid-19. Those 72 players are confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks, not afforded the daily five-hour window for practice and training that other players are allowed.

Earlier this week, Bautista Agut–like many others–complained about the situation.

“It’s the same (as prison); it’s the same, but with Wi-Fi,” he said in an interview that he did not think would be made public. “These people have no idea about tennis, about practice courts, no idea about anything. It’s a complete disaster because of that, because of the control of everything.”

“It’s the same (as prison),” Roberto Bautista Agut said of Australian Open quarantine before apologizing for his remarks, which he said were “taken out of context.”

The 13th-ranked Spaniard apologized after his comments caused an uproar in the media.

“I want to apologize to everyone who has been offended by the video that was posted about me recently,” he wrote. “It is a private conversation taken out of context that has unfortunately been released to the media without my knowledge or consent.

“Both my coach and I are following the protocols designed by the Australian government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way. These are hard times for athletes and society in general.”

When the quarantine is over at the end of this month, a week of warmup tournaments will take place prior to the February 8-21 Australian Open.

On the ATP Tour, the ATP Cup and two Melbourne-based 250-point events are scheduled. The tour is discussing the idea of tinkering with the current entry lists such that one of the 250s will include players who are under strict quarantine and the other will include players who have been able to practice and train.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Notes : Well said Ricky. It’s hard to explain what sunlight and being outside is to a tennis player. Most have been outside since they were training at 5/6 years old. They live outside almost every minute of the day … everyday forever. The contrast of the players accommodations varies  greatly. Some food trays are filled with processed food. Or major carbs which they can do a 5 k in their rooms and still not burn off those carbs. Empty calories. It just should be like Novak said. More equal. Every player should have a tiny balcony. Every player should have enough food and healthy meals. Thank you Novak. Thank you Artiem Sitak for all your positivity . Huge thank you to Sven Groeneveld and your daily updates . Thank you Vika and  your agency who wrote your great sentiments. Thank you to Victoria Australia 🇦🇺 . You deserved better than all of this. Sorry you are saddled by this situation. It is this editor’s opinion that the tennis could have waited till 2022 ( LJ)