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Australian Open chief explains why Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal are getting ‘a better deal’


Tiley defended bigger stars getting a ‘better deal’ (Picture: Getty)

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley hit back at aggrieved tennis players amid complaints over quarantine conditions and insists the biggest stars of the sport were always ‘going to get a better deal’.

Tiley, the CEO of Tennis Australia, faced a call with disgruntled players earlier this week and admitted he and his team took some ‘big hits’ from those dissatisfied by the current situation.

To recap, 72 players saw their practice privileges stripped as they were thrust into hard two-week quarantine after positive Covid-19 tests were returned on charter flights to Melbourne from Doha, Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles.

While the majority have kept their heads down and looked to prepare for a Grand Slam in the best way the can given the circumstances, others have vented their frustration on social media – something Tiley has not been impressed by.

One source of grievance has been the conditions afforded to the sports biggest stars, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, who are quarantining in Adelaide rather than Melbourne and are surrounded by large entourages and favourable conditions.

Stan Wawrinka, the three-time Grand Slam champion from Switzerland, voiced his amusement at Djokovic sending a list of ‘suggestions’ to Tiley when enjoying cushier conditions, writing on social media: ‘From Adelaide? hahaha’.

Nadal Williams and Djokovic are getting a ‘better deal’, Tiley admitted (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Tiley, however, does not see it as an issue and his risked the wrath of the wider player body by suggesting they are deserving of their favourable treatment.

‘I get the feeling it is perceived as preferential treatment,’ Tiley told reporters in Australia.

“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 was happy to field complaints from disgruntled players but was clear in his message: take your grievances to him, rather than post them on social media.

‘We had 500 players last night on a group chat where anyone could ask questions, complaints,’ Tiley added.

‘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.’

Djokovic was snapped playing tennis on his balcony (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Tiley will give those under stricter quarantine regulations ‘priority’ for scheduling and practice times in an attempt to level the playing field.

‘It’s certainly an advantage,’ Tiley said of those players able to practice every day. ‘The difference is significant.

“I used to coach and it takes a couple of weeks at least to get to maximum preparedness.

‘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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