Craig Tiley, tournament director for the Australian Open, has admitted that the likes of Djokovic and Nadal are getting a better deal than their fellow competitors.
The Australian Open has come under intense scrutiny this week with decisions made in the light of various positive COVID tests from their participants.
Over 70 players are currently in hard quarantine, unable to leave their rooms at all, with no access to training facilities or practice courts.
Meanwhile, top male players Djokovic, Nadal and Thiem alongside women’s players Osaka, Williams and Halep have had a separate base in Adelaide with court access, indoor gym and less restrictions.
The decision to split the players was originally cited as a space issue at Melbourne hotels, and an additional pre-slam showcase event was added in Adelaide.
However, many have questioned whether it is more a case of preferential treatment being given to the bigger names.
World number one Djokovic attempted to intervene by writing a letter to Craig Tiley suggesting improvements for the self-isolating players.
But this backfired in the media, many painting him as the villain for making demands and disrespecting the rules.
With many of the Melbourne quarantined players disgruntled about the situation, Tiley, who is also CEO of Tennis Australia, has come under fire.
Tiley said, “I get the feeling it is perceived as preferential treatment.
“But they’re the top players in the world. My general rule is if you’re at the top of the game, a Grand Slam champion, it’s just the nature of the business. You are going to get a better deal.”
Tiley went on to comment on the situation with the quarantined players: “We had 500 players last night on a group chat where anyone could ask questions, complaints.
“We stood as a team and we took them – and there were some big hits that we took. But there were also some compliments and a scroll of ‘thank yous’, from all the stars.
“What really upset me probably last night the most was if you’ve got a complaint, blame me. Don’t go out on social media and take it out on the staff, Melbourne community or Australia – don’t do that.
“If you want to have a crack, come to me. Not at someone that’s been working around the clock, that hurts. What are you trying to achieve? You’re not solving the problem.” Tilly added.
When asked how tournament officials will try to support those who have been disadvantaged by the circumstances, Tiley concluded: ” I certainly think those in lockdown, we’ll have a great deal of empathy for supporting them.
“Look at scheduling, practice courts, times, availability – they will have the priority.”
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