Novak Djokovic has defended the list of suggestions he made to Tennis Australia about improving quarantine conditions, and has condemned the public reception they have received.
More than 70 players are confined to their hotel rooms in a two-week hotel quarantine after positive tests on flights to Melbourne. In response, Djokovic requested better food, shortening the isolation periods if players tested negative and having players moved to "private houses with tennis courts".
However, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews firmly ruled out making exceptions to quarantine rules for Australian Open players.
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Former world No 53 Sam Groth called out Djokovic, who is the head of the Professional Tennis Players’ Association, saying his proposals were "a selfish political move to gain popularity". Nick Kyrgios branded Djokovic "a tool” for it.
Djokovic has said his proposals were only suggestions and not selfish demands, as they have been perceived by some players and parts of the media.
"My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult and ungrateful," he wrote. "This couldn’t be further from the truth.
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"Not every action is taken at 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.
"I genuinely care about my fellow professionals and also understand very well how the world is run and who gets bigger and better and why."
Djokovic went on to clarify his "very good" relationship with TA chief executive Craig Tiley and admitted that he thought his suggestions would get rejected.
"I have always had a very good relationship with Craig," he added. "I respect and appreciate all the effort he puts into making the Australian Open a place to look forward to coming back to each year.
"In an email exchange I used an opportunity to brainstorm about potential improvements that could be made to the quarantine of players in Melbourne that were in full lockdown.
"There were a few ideas and suggestions I gathered from other players in our group chat and there was no harm intended.
I was aware the chances were low that any of our suggestions would be accepted, just like my request to quarantine with my team in Melbourne instead of Adelaide was denied prior to our travel, because of the strict government regulations. Since I couldn't be with other players in Melbourne, I made myself available to them if needed.
He added: "Things in the media escalated and there was a general impression that the players (including myself) are ungrateful, weak and selfish because of their unpleasant feelings in quarantine.
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"I am sorry that it has come to that because I do know how grateful many are. We all come to Australia to compete.
"Not being able to train and prepare before the tournament starts is really not easy. None of us ever questioned the 14 days of quarantine despite what is being said by media outlets."
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