Jamie Murray believes comparisons between his Battle of the Brits event and Novak Djokovic’s cancelled Adria Tour are ‘night and day’ after a string of positive coronavirus tests at the Eastern European exhibition.
On the first day of Murray’s all-British tournament at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, world No. 1 Djokovic announced that he and his wife have contracted Covid-19.
Djokovic had been in close contact with players and fans amid lax social distancing in Belgrade and Zadar. Stadiums were full, players played contact sports such as football and basketball, while a group – including top-10 stars Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem – were seen partying, some with their tops off, in a nightclub.
The rest of the Adria Tour was, unsurprisingly, cancelled and the episode has drawn close attention to a sport that intends to resume on a global scale – hopping through New York, Madrid, Rome and Paris in the space of six weeks – in August.
Focus will now switch to the Battle of the Brits in Roehampton, where Murray, a seven-time Grand Slam doubles champion, is the tournament director as well as being part of the player field.
Murray and Battle of the Brits organisers have worked tirelessly to put precautionary measures in place at the UK event and he admitted Djokovic and co. had ‘not covered themselves in glory’ with their gung-ho approach.
‘Well, that’s the thing,’ Murray said after he and partner Neal Skupski suffered a surprise defeat to Cam Norrie and Liam Broady on Tuesday afternoon. ‘They’ve obviously got different guidelines or stages they’re at in their country.
‘Their government is obviously telling them they can have fans at sporting events and clearly they couldn’t. They weren’t ready for that.
‘They’ve obviously not covered themselves in glory but that makes no difference to our event in terms of whether people are going to be safe or not.
‘We’re night and day compared to what’s going on there. We’re doing everything we can, that’s all we can do. It’s obviously not a great look for tennis but that’s totally different to what we’re doing here.’
Certain players, including Djokovic, had criticised proposed restrictions for the US Open later this year and Murray is confident that the tour’s resumption will be a very different picture to the Adria Tour.
‘I don’t think it puts back tennis,’ he added. ‘That’s an event that’s got 1000s of fans turning up and we’re going to be playing with no fans.
‘As long as these tournaments are going to the lengths we’re going to to put on events then you’re creating a safe environment.
‘Everyone is going to have to get tested, I imagine, so I don’t think it really puts the tour back as such, they’ll have totally different rules in place to what’s been going on in Croatia and wherever else they were playing.’
Meanwhile, Britain’s hottest young prospect Jack Draper has been forced to pull out of the Battle of the Brits due to an abdominal injury.
Kyle Edmund had no problems on his return, however, making light work of James Ward in a 6-1 6-4 win.
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