'Mistake: Thiem regret over Djokovic's Adria Tour


Paris (AFP)

World number three Dominic Thiem has acknowledged tennis players at the ill-fated Adria Tour made "a mistake" after Novak Djokovic and three other participants contracted coronavirus.

Thiem took part in the Belgrade leg of the exhibition event organised by Djokovic where social distancing was minimal and matches were played in front of thousands of fans.

World number one 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.

Thiem, who left for an exhibition tournament in his native France after Belgrade, says he has tested negative five times since leaving the Balkans.

"We put our confidence in the Serbian government's coronavirus rules, but we were too optimistic," he wrote on social media in his first public reaction to the tournament which was cancelled on Sunday.

"Our behaviour was a mistake, we displayed too much euphoria, I am extremely sorry."

He put this exuberance down to playing in front of fans for the first time "in weeks".

"I've been tested five times in the past 10 days and each time it was negative," he added.

Djokovic, 33, has come in for heavy criticism over the debacle, saying on Tuesday that he was "so deeply sorry" that the tournament "caused harm". His wife Jelena has also tested positive.

The affair has raised concern over the planned restart of professional tennis in August, including the US Open which is scheduled to begin on August 31.