Dominic Theim has hit out against people criticising Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic for being irresponsible over the Adria Tour mess that saw four players and several other support staff and family members contracting coronavirus.
He also said that he didn’t see the reason to self-isolate since he was healthy and tested negative after going for the tests for 10 straight days. “ If the result was negative, it was time to train again and then soon out to the airport. That was the rhythm. But it was better than going to quarantine. I don’t see that I should bunker at home when I’m healthy. That’s why I decided to take the tests,” Thiem was quoted as saying in an interview with Tiroler Tageszeitung, German-language newspaper in Austria.
The Austrian had initially apologised and acknowledged that tennis players at the Adria Tour made a mistake. Thiem took part in the Belgrade leg of the exhibition event organised by Djokovic, which was meant to be for charity, where social distancing was minimal and matches were played in front of thousands of fans, attracting a storm of criticism.
Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive to Covid-19 after an event where players embraced across the net, played basketball and went to a nightclub. Djokovic’s wife Jelena and coach Goran Ivanisevic were also infected along with Troicki’s pregnant wife.
“If I ignore our role model function - where we made mistakes - I don’t understand the criticism of us. I was in Nice now, I saw pictures of other cities. It is no different than the tournament in Belgrade. And then hit Djokovic like this? It’s too cheap for me,” he added.
Also read: Questions facing Djokovic and tennis: What next after ill-fated Adria Tour, positive Covid-19 tests?
All those involved were then expected to self-isolate in the wake of positive tests, but Theim had left to participate in another tennis tournament in France while Zverev was filmed partying in Monte Carlo. Both players had tested negative but Zverev, 23, was heavily criticised after viral footage emerged of him partying in a busy bar despite pledging to “follow self-isolating guidelines”.
“He should have done it like me. He was also tested negatively, only his mistake was that he first wrote the statement and then had the bad luck of being filmed at the party. But I don’t like the way people criticize him. He is treated as if he were an elementary school child. But he’s a 23 year old man. Sure, he made a mistake - but I don’t understand why everyone is getting involved,” Thiem said in defence of his friend.
He also said that Kyrgios, who publicly slammed Zverev’s “selfish” behaviour and has been vocal against the Adria Tour, should not interfere since he has done “a lot of nonsense” himself.
Thiem’s father, Wolfgang, who also trains the 26-year-old, had also defended Djokovic, telling Austria’s Presse daily that the world number one had not broken any of Serbia’s and Croatia’s coronavirus rules and the tour had aimed to collect money for charity.
“Of course the dancing in the nightclub was not ideal, but Djokovic did nothing bad in principle,” he was quoted as saying.