‘Novak Djokovic was helping the people he’s competing against,’ says top analyst

Jim Courier says it should not be forgotten that Novak Djokovic was ‘trying to help the people he’s going to compete against’ at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was the victim of a strong backlash last month when he attempted to intervene to improve conditions for the 72 players forced to enter hard quarantine in Melbourne.

The world number one, who was based in Adelaide, contacted Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley with a list of suggestions including things like better food, exercise equipment brought to rooms, and to relocate as many of the 72 as possible to private houses with tennis courts.

Courier, though, believes critics of Djokovic need to reassess their anger on the subject.

“People need to keep this in perspective,” Courier told The Age.

“What’s really important to remember is that Novak didn’t need any of the things that he was suggesting.

“He was the one who had a balcony, he had access to the court for five hours a day to do his training and his off-court training.

“What he was asking for was help for the people that are going to try and beat him at the Australian Open. That’s really important to note: he was helping the people that he’s going to compete against.

“Because while some of the things he asked for are still pie in the sky – the house with the tennis court, all of those things, it’s so completely unrealistic – but it was still done with the intention to help his competitors and I think that’s been lost in the shuffle.

Courier also backed Djokovic in reiterating the need to try to help the players affected, adding: “The challenge [for those players] is just losing feel – with the tennis ball on the tennis racket.

“It certainly helps to be able to hit balls against mattresses and keep your hand on the racket, but you don’t get to judge the distance of your shot in the same way.”

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