Novak Djokovic believes that the majority of male tennis players do not want to continue with their season should they be required to quarantine at other tournaments during their travels.
Djokovic, who defeated Alexander Zverev 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6) to reach the Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday, continues to compete with an abdominal injury sustained after a fall in his third round match against Taylor Fritz. He is one of numerous male players who have acquired injuries since their arrival in Melbourne.
Earlier in the day, Grigor Dimitrov suffered from a back spasm during his 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 quarter-final loss to the qualifier Aslan Karatsev. Dimitrov had reached that round after easily beating the third seed, Dominic Thiem, who carried an unspecified injury. Pablo Carreño Busta and Matteo Berrettini, both in the world’s top 20, retired with abdominal issues, while Rafael Nadal picked up a back issue early during his time in Adelaide. Djokovic believes the injuries are connected and a result of the time spent in quarantine.
“There’s too many injuries,” he said. “I’m just hoping that this is all temporary so that we can go back to what we are used to without interruptions of practice. The 14-day quarantine, people don’t realise but I think the amount of injuries during this tournament has shown how much of an effect it has on the players’ bodies. It’s taken its toll, unfortunately, for both of us.”
Speaking in his press conference afterwards, Djokovic explained that there have been discussions and doubts about where the tour goes after the conclusion of the numerous tournaments in Australia.
“Talking to a lot of players, the majority of the players just don’t want to go ahead with the season if we are going to have to quarantine most of the tournaments. So this is something that should be discussed, like as of now. I think council, I spoke to some of the council members, and they are saying they have extensive discussions about that with ATP management.”
Djokovic argued that the sport should consider a more permanent base where players can compete in the same place and he referenced the NBA bubble as inspiration. “I’m not pointing fingers at anybody,” he said. “It’s just I’m speaking what is going on, speaking the truth, am speaking the reality, and we have to talk about it. We have to find a way, you know, whether it’s something like an NBA bubble, because I heard some players talk about that, and I don’t mind to discuss about that kind of idea. Select one place and we play all the tournaments on that surface and that place.”
Meanwhile Ash Barty has been dumped out of the Australian Open in a massive quarter-final upset to 25th seed Czech Karolina Muchova.
World No. 1 Barty demolished a struggling Muchova 6-1 in a 24-minute first set before the wheels fell off after Muchova took a controversial 10-minute medical time out while down a break early in the second set.
Barty, frustrated by the lengthy delay, completely lost her rhythm against her resurgent rival, racking up error after error to lose the second set 3-6 and the decider 2-6.