Novak Djokovic has defended his controversial staging of the Adria Tour and claimed: “I would do it again”.
And the world No.1 has questioned the potential effectiveness of any Covid-19 vaccine and said he would not be forced to take it.
The Serbian superstar will return to ATP action for the first time since lockdown – and catching the coronavirus – at this weekend's Western & Southern Open in Flushing Meadow before the US Open on August 31.
The world No.1 will be the hot favourite to win his 18th Grand Slam title after the withdrawals of Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.
And Djokovic, who revealed he only decided to compete last week, will be paying for his own security in a rented house to stay away from the player's hotel in New York.
The reigning Wimbledon champion was forced to abandon the Adria Tour after players, coaches and his wife Jelena also contracted the coronavirus following the exhibition matches and a party in a Belgrade nightclub.
But Djokovic told the New York Times: “We tried to do something with the right intentions.
"Yes, there were some steps that could have been done differently, of course, but am I going to be then forever blamed for doing a mistake?
"I mean, OK, if this is the way, fine, I’ll accept it, because that’s the only thing I can do. Whether it’s fair or not, you tell me, but I know that the intentions were right and correct, and if I had the chance to do the Adria Tour again, I would do it again.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything bad to be honest. I do feel sorry for people that were infected.
"Do I feel guilty for anybody that was infected from that point onward in Serbia, Croatia and the region? Of course not. It’s like a witch hunt, to be honest.
"How can you blame one individual for everything?”
Djokovic called the coronavirus “a huge transformational phase for all of us on this planet” and added: “I think maybe even the last wake-up call.”
The Serb, 33, claimed he is not an anti-vaxxer but said: “My issue here with vaccines is if someone is forcing me to put something in my body. That I don’t want. For me that’s unacceptable.
"I am not against vaccination of any kind. I’m sure that there are vaccines that have little side effects that have helped people and helped stop the spread of some infections around the world.”
He added: “How are we expecting that to solve our problem when this coronavirus is mutating regularly from what I understand?”
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