Novak Djokovic defended after picture emerged of US exit before ATP suspension announced

Novak Djokovic had the ‘right’ to leave the USA before the ATP announced there would be a six-break due to the coronavirus. On Thursday, the men’s professional tennis tour confirmed there would be a hiatus on the calendar as the world deals with the pandemic.

But on Wednesday evening there was confusion among players about whether the Miami Open would still take place amid conflicting media reports.

And Djokovic’s fitness trainer Marco Panichi posted a picture on social media of the world No 1 on a plane with his team including Goran Ivanisevic, about to depart back to Europe.

As the chairman of the ATP player’s council, Djokovic will have likely known of the decisions made regarding Miami and a suspension of competition.

However, Japanese player responded to the image saying: “So Djokovic is leaving US before any tournaments post IW are cancelled or postponed. What info am I missing?”

And Noah Rubin added: “Being in the dark is common in this world. Let’s keep telling a select few what’s happening while the rest just guess.”

A few hours later it was eventually confirmed that Miami would not take place and the tour had been suspended for several weeks, hence the reason for Djokovic’s decision to return home.

Daniel and Rubin’s bemusement was viewed as a criticism of Djokovic and his failure to communicate with the players on the tour.

But speaking on Tennis Channel, Paul Annacone and Lindsay Davenport leapt to the defence of the Serbian.


  • ATP announces six-week suspension due to global coronavirus outbreak

Annacone said: “I have a sneaking suspicion that as president of the player council he will be on the first people to know when the decision was made and that oftentimes it is different from when it is announced.”

Davenport then added: “People have to remember, players can make personal decisions.

“And if he felt he needed to get back to his family, maybe he doesn’t care about one tournament that may or may not go on.

“We don’t know exactly when everything was decided and when he knew but players have the right to decide what they want to do. Two small kids at home also, I’m sure that was weighing on his mind.”

World No 3 Dominic Thiem was the biggest name to react to the news of the tour’s suspension, telling fans: “Unfortunately we have to wrap up and leave without playing a tournament here in the states!

“I’m very sorry for all the fans and people who worked hard the entire year to make these tournaments special and unique.

“At the moment we have to accept the decision and do our best to keep everybody healthy and safe!

“I’m already looking forward to hit some balls again and will keep all of you updated as soon as I get some news!”

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