World no. 3 Dominic Thiem is “extremely sorry” for the way players conducted themselves at Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour exhibition event after which four players tested positive for coronavirus, the Austrian said on Thursday.
Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki tested positive after playing in the charity tournament in Serbia and Croatia, which drew big crowds and saw players pose for pictures together.
Images and videos of the players hugging at the net, playing basketball together and partying at the event have also been posted on social media.
Australian Open finalist Thiem played in and won the Belgrade leg, which was staged at Djokovic’s tennis centre by the Danube River.
The 26-year-old, who lost to Djokovic in the Melbourne final, said he was “shocked” when he got the news from the Adria Tour. The event was called off following the second leg in Zadar, Croatia.
“We played without an audience for weeks, so we have been more than happy about the fans at the event,” Thiem said in an Instagram post. “We trusted the Serbian government’s corona rules, but we have been too optimistic.
“Our behaviour was a mistake, we acted too euphorically. I am extremely sorry.”
Though the players were not breaking government protocols during the tournament, it highlighted the risks of athletes from different countries mingling without adhering to what have become social distancing norms.
Thiem, also a two-times finalist at Roland Garros, did not play in Zadar as he had signed up to join the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, which is being held on weekends at Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy in France.
“I’ve now got tested five times within the last 10 days and the result was always negative. I wish everyone who is infected all the best and quick recovery,” Thiem added.