Tennis fans have hit out in disgust at Novak Djokovic after the World No.1 confirmed he would be staying in a rented New York house, rather than accommodation offered to other players at the US Open.
The world No.1 felt the hotels would be too suffocating and he battled with organisers to be allowed to stay elsewhere - even though he has had to pay for security to show he is not breaking the rules.
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"With the trees and serenity, being in this kind of environment is a blessing," Djokovic told the New York Times on Thursday ahead of the Western and Southern warm-up event starting this weekend.
The US Open begins without fans on August 31 at the same Flushing Meadows venue.
"I'm grateful, because I've seen the hotel where the majority of players are staying. I don't want to sound arrogant... but it's tough for most of the players, not being able to open their window and being in a hotel in a small room."
Djokovic's move has not gone down well in the tennis world, particularly because it was his Adria Tour that led to several high-profile players including himself, test positive for coronavirus.
The Serbian star was roundly criticised for the ill-fated tennis event, after being seen out partying and flouting virus protocols during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following his latest move at the US Open, tennis fans have slammed Djokovic's "arrogance" and questioned why he doesn't have to stay within the same quarantine bubble as other players.
Awful Djokovic. Take out the self pity. Be more responsible. If 1 person is ill due to you you should feel terrible. Now arrogantly living in your luxurious accommodation while other players are stifled up in hotel. A disgrace.— KeiraEve (@tohabebj) August 20, 2020
Dreadful - continually plays victim card. Compare his attitude to victims of virus to that of Dimitrov who showed genuine angst at the thought of infecting people. Djokovic arrogant beyond belief. Why does he get to live in a nice house while other players cooped in hotel?— KeiraEve (@tohabebj) August 20, 2020
Good to see that #Djokovic still knows where comes from 🙃 Had to practice on a wall and queue for food as a kid, but that hotel does not meet his standards...— Bagels and Breadsticks (@bageIbreadstick) August 21, 2020
Just now reading the Djokovic interview. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but...” Then proceeds with ridiculous arrogance. 🤦🏻♀️— Brittany (@Britt_avalos) August 20, 2020
World No.1 boosted by rivals’ absence
Djokovic's prospects of adding an 18th grand slam title to his collection have been boosted by the absence of his two biggest rivals.
US Open champion Rafa Nadal has opted not to fly to the US because of the pandemic and is instead preparing for the rearranged French Open from September 27.
Roger Federer is injured, leaving Djokovic as the star attraction, which he says was part of his decision to come.
"I was very close to not coming," he said. "There were a lot of uncertainties.
"I of course also felt responsible as a top player to be here. It's important for our sport to keep going."
Djokovic contracted COVID-19 during his Adria Tour exhibition tournament in June.
He was heavily criticised for the event but says it has become a "witch hunt".
"We tried to do something with the right intentions," Djokovic said.
"Yes, there were some steps that could have been done differently...but if I had the chance to do the Adria Tour again, I would do it again."