Nick Kyrgios has hit back at Boris Becker after the German legend branded him a "rat" over his public criticism of Alexander Zverev.

World number seven Zverev was labelled as "selfish" by Kyrgios after he was apparently spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev took part in the Adria Tour where several players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, tested positive for coronavirus and, although he returned a negative result himself, promised to isolate, with guidelines recommending 14 days.

Becker, a winner of six grand slams, called out Kyrgios' public criticism, leading to the duo exchanging a few virtual volleys on Twitter.

"We all live in the pandemic called #Covid_19 ! It's terrible and it killed to many lives...we should protect our families/loved ones and follow the guidelines but still don't like #rats @NickKyrgios," Becker wrote on Twitter.

Kyrgios defended himself, writing: "Rats? For holding someone accountable? Strange way to think of it champion, I'm just looking out for people. WHEN my family and families all over the world have respectfully done the right thing. And you have a goose waving his arms around, imma say something."

The argument was not done there, though, with Becker once again repeating his earlier insult.

"Don't like no #rats ! Anybody telling off fellow sportsman/woman is no friend of mine! Look yourself in the mirror and think your better than us...@NickKyrgios."

To which Kyrgios responded: "For goodness sake Boris, I'm not competing or trying to throw anyone under the bus. It's a global pandemic and if someone is as idiotic as Alex to do what he has done, I'll call him out for it. Simple."

The back-and-forth exchange did not end there, with Kyrgios saying Becker is a "bigger doughnut than I thought" and he "can hit a volley, obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed though".

Becker continued the argument, with the retort: "Your [sic] funny guy ....how is it down under? Respect all the guidelines?" before somewhat bizarrely attempting to change tact.

"I really would like to see @NickKyrgios fulfil his potential and win a grand slam! He would be an incredible role model for the youth of the world addressing the issues of equality/race/heritage! Man up buddy and deliver!" Becker commented.

Kyrgios, though, was in little mood to change the topic of discussion.

"Why are you now talking about tennis? It has nothing to do with tennis? How about the dude who you are defending mans up and gives us some sort of explanation? Not another average management apology," he wrote.

Wimbledon should have been getting under way on Monday and the queue would have been building all weekend long, a tented village of flag-waving, gin-swigging tennis diehards doing whatever it takes to land a prized ticket.

The practice courts would have been bustling, news conferences with the world's elite players running all day Saturday and into Sunday, and the first bumper delivery of fresh strawberries would have arrived fresh from the fields of Kent.

Elite athletes and their entourages would have been milling around the grounds, before at 10.30am on Monday morning the paying spectators would have been released from their holding bay, many racing straight to the grass bank that is officially named Aorangi Terrace but better known as Henman Hill.

And at 11.30am, the first players would have been walking on court, the championships getting under way. To be there at such a time is a delicious thrill, the waiting over, the grounds teeming, the first points being played, and the anticipation escalating as to what might unfold over the next fortnight.

Yet this year Wimbledon was all quiet across the weekend; thousands did not queue for tickets; the line painters, the stewards, and the ball boys and ball girls stayed at home; and a whole lot more strawberry jam is being produced in England this year than last.

The 2020 championships were cancelled on April 1, the only reasonable decision available to the All England Club amid the coronavirus pandemic, but organisers are already preparing for next year's return.

And from the plot lines that are already emerging, it is clear we can expect a classic Wimbledon.

A farewell to great champions?

There is the very real prospect of tennis losing a huddle of its biggest stars practically all at once, with anyone that was considering bowing out this year surely now giving the glad eye to 2021.

Roger Federer will be just weeks short of his 40th birthday by next year's Wimbledon, and the same applies to Serena Williams, whose sister Venus will already be 41.

Andy Murray will be a relatively young 34 but his body has taken a battering, the Scot desperate to play more grand slams but also realistic enough to know there may not be many left for him. He longs for another Wimbledon, maybe just one more.

Between them, that quartet have won 22 Wimbledon singles titles, and all four could choose the 2021 tournament as their opportunity to bid farewell to the All England Club.

It's going to be an emotional tournament in any case, if we are back to normal, but if there are goodbyes to be said too, the championships promise to be one packed with indelible memories, and so many tears.

The magic numbers

Serena Williams has lost each of the past two Wimbledon women's finals and has been stuck on 23 grand slams since winning the 2017 Australian Open, agonisingly one short of Margaret Court's record.

Could Wimbledon be where Williams matches or even passes Court's total? The American remains the player to beat at Wimbledon, and her hunger for grand slam success has not remotely diminished over time.

There can be little doubt she is playing not purely for the love of it, but because of the thrill of the chase, and Williams might wind up disappointed at the end of her career, still marooned one adrift.

But what a story it would be if Williams were to win another Wimbledon, the last of her thirties. Don't put anything past her.

And the race to finish as the all-time leader on the men's side keeps rolling, a devil of a duty to predict who will come out on top between Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Another Wimbledon win for any of them could take on momentous significance in that respect.

A new men's Centre Court king, at last?

The last player to win the Wimbledon's men's singles, besides the 'Big Four' of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

And while the era of those four great players dominating in SW19 has been one to treasure, seeing a new champion crowned would be rather special.

There have been nine winners of the women's singles over the same period of time, multiple champions among them but also terrific one-off stories such as Marion Bartoli's triumph, the 17-year-old Maria Sharapova's big breakthrough, Amelie Mauresmo's great achievement, and the unbridled joy of Simona Halep last year.

Certainly there is so much to admire about the quartet that have ruled the men's singles, but a little novelty feels overdue.

Those queueing up to form a new dominant group need to push themselves forward, rather than play a waiting game.

Gauff gunning for major breakthrough

Gauff gunning for major breakthrough

What a revelation Coco Gauff became last year, defeating her great hero Venus Williams and reaching the fourth round, where it took eventual champion Halep to halt the 15-year-old's run.

She dramatically followed up by reaching the third round of the US Open and then round four of the Australian Open at the start of this year.

Between those two grand slams, Gauff also landed her first WTA title, in Linz, Austria, where she became the youngest winner on tour for 15 years.

The American teenager is the real deal, that much is clear, and she has a bright future.

Gauff demonstrated wisdom beyond her years off the court in early June with a terrific, powerful address at a Black Lives Matter rally in her Florida home town of Delray Beach.

May she return many times to Wimbledon.

Nick Kyrgios hit out at Alexander Zverev for being "selfish" after apparently being spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate.

Zverev, the world number seven, played at the Adria Tour, where Novak Djokovic was among several players to test positive for coronavirus, as social-distancing guidelines were ignored earlier this month.

In a statement released on Twitter on June 22, Zverev said he tested negative for COVID-19 but would follow self-isolation rules, with 14 days usually recommended.

But the German was reportedly spotted partying and Kyrgios blasted the 23-year-old.

"So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world," Kyrgios said in an Instagram video.

"But one just stuck out for me was seeing 'Sascha' Zverev again, man, again, again, how selfish can you be? How selfish can you be?

"I mean if you have the audacity to f****** put out a tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you're going to self-isolate for 14 days and apologising to the f****** general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days, my God.

"Have your girlfriend with you for f****** 14 days, Jesus man. Pissing me off, this tennis world is pissing me off, seriously, how selfish can you all get?"

The ATP Tour season is scheduled to restart in August, having been suspended in March due to COVID-19.

There have been more than 10.2 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 504,000.

Sofia Kenin helped Team Peace beat Team Kindness at the Credit One Bank Invitational in Charleston.

Kenin, this year's Australian Open champion, won three of her four matches at the tournament, played with the WTA Tour season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The American had mixed singles results, beating Alison Riske and losing to Madison Keys, while teaming up with Bethanie Mattek-Sands for two doubles victories.

Also part of Team Peace, Eugenie Bouchard claimed two wins from four matches.

For Team Kindness, Amanda Anisimova and Sloane Stephens both went 3-1, Madison Keys was 2-2 and Victoria Azarenka struggled, losing all four of her matches.

Stefanos Tsitsipas got the better of Alexei Popyrin to tighten his grip on top spot in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown after the third weekend of the series.

Greek rising star Tsitsipas came from behind to sneak a 3-2 success over Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez on Saturday, and he followed that on Sunday with a 3-1 triumph against Australian prospect Popyrin.

The behind-closed-doors and unorthodox tournament is being staged across five consecutive weekends at the Cote d'Azur tennis academy run by Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, with a quickfire format aimed at attracting new fans to the sport.

Each match consists of four 10-minute quarters, rather than sets, with a point going to the winner of each quarter.

A sudden-death tie-break follows at the end of the match if scores are level at two quarters each, with the first player to take back-to-back points declared the winner.

World number six Tsitsipas has now won five of his six matches in the competition, putting him ahead of Italian Matteo Berrettini and France's Richard Gasquet, who each have won four times but lost twice.

Dominic Thiem, who has played just four matches, has won three times and lost once, and this weekend the Austrian world number three earned 3-1 successes over David Goffin and Berrettini.

Gasquet suffered a 4-0 loss to Berrettini on Saturday but bounced back by beating fellow Frenchman Corentin Moutet 3-1 on Sunday.

Dan Evans comprehensively defeated Kyle Edmund 6-3 6-2 to win the inaugural Battle of the Brits exhibition event.

The British number one has enjoyed an unbeaten week at the LTA's National Tennis Centre, including beating Andy Murray in Saturday's semi-final, and was in fine form on Sunday.

Edmund was broken three times during a first set in which Evans' power from the baseline and ability to move forward was the difference maker.

It was a great start to the second set for Edmund, who broke at the first time of asking, only to hand that advantage straight back.

The clinical Evans then won four straight games from 2-2 to wrap up the win in one hour and 18 minutes.

"As Kyle said it was like a tour event and I wasn't sure how it would work out," Evans said. 

"Thanks to everyone who has worked on it, all the players have loved it - that's the truth. Everyone has been raving about the tournament.

"It has been a long week and a great week."

Murray was scheduled to play in the third-place match but withdrew due to a shin injury.

His replacement, James Ward, was beaten 6-3 7-5 by Cameron Norrie. 

Andy Murray missed out on a place in the Battle of the Brits title match as he suffered a semi-final defeat to Dan Evans.

The two-time Wimbledon champion made an impressive start but could not keep up the same pace as he was edged out 1-6 6-3 10-8 by the current British number one.

Murray led 4-1 at one stage in the match tie-break but his composure ebbed away, the Scot particularly angry at one point by the movement of a member of his support team, who was in his eyeline off the court.

"Stop moving back there," Murray shouted.

Evans stuck to his task and a wayward Murray forehand gave the Englishman two match points.

Murray saved the first with a big serve but then saw Evans get lucky on his second opportunity, a backhand that looked to be going out striking the net and bouncing in.

Murray was competing for the first time this year after pelvic problems kept him out of the opening weeks of the season, with tennis then suspended from March due to the coronavirus.

This has been a behind-closed-doors indoor tournament, and Murray has at least had good match practice, playing four opponents in a week, winning twice and only losing to Kyle Edmund and Evans on tie-breaks.

Evans said on Amazon Prime: "He did a lot good in the first set and in the end it came down to the big points.

"I was very lucky on match point but I'm just happy to come through.

"I'm surprised by how well he was executing. Not so much the aggression but I was really surprised, he hardly missed a ball for set one.

"You always know with Andy he's going to come out with some top tennis."

Evans, ranked 28th in the world, thought his own efforts in London would be forlorn when Murray sped away in the tie-break.

"You're thinking the worst of course. I hung in there, but that's how it goes at times," he said. "I'm just really happy to come through."

Serena Williams remains tantalisingly close to Margaret Court's all-time grand slam record of 24 major victories.

The American, still going strong at the age of 38, has lost her last four grand slam finals against Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu.

Wimbledon is a special event for Williams, who has reached the final on 11 occasions, including those recent losses to Kerber and Halep.

The tournament therefore represents one of the best chances for the seven-time champion to draw level with Court's historic mark.

However, the event in 2020 was cancelled – the first time that has happened since World War II - due to the coronavirus pandemic, complicating Williams' record pursuit.

Ahead of what would have been the start of Wimbledon next week, Stats Perform News debated whether Williams can already be considered the greatest player in women's tennis history.


Graf is the greatest

By Joe Wright

Serena is a modern powerhouse, her serve and shot-making unrivalled at its best; Martina Navratilova's serve-and-volley skills delivered 59 majors across singles and doubles from 1981 to 1990; Margaret Court still tops the tables for grand slam singles titles, winning 24 between 1960 and 1973, spanning the shift to the Open era.

The greatest, then, would be a player who could feasibly have thrived in any of those eras. The greatest, then, is Steffi Graf.

The German ruled women's tennis for more than a decade after winning the 1987 French Open. A year after that triumph in Paris, she became the first to win tennis' 'Golden Slam' - all four major singles titles and Olympic gold in the same year. She was 18.

Between 1987 and 1996, she won 22 grand slam singles titles spread neatly across the four events: four in Australia, six in France, seven at Wimbledon and five in the United States. She held the number one ranking for 377 weeks, a record never beaten in the women's or men's game.

Her 107 tour titles puts her behind only Navratilova and Chris Evert on the all-time list and only she and Court have won three majors in a single calendar year five times.

'Fraulein Forehand' could overpower opponents from the baseline, unbalance them with a wicked sliced backhand and demoralise them with ferocious serves and precision volleys.

She combined power and elegance in such a way that she could dominate on every surface. She would have been a match for Court in the 60s, she beat Navratilova in four of six slam finals and, had she not retired at just 30 in 1999, she'd have known how to handle a young Serena.

In that same year, Billie Jean King proclaimed: "Steffi is definitely the greatest women's tennis player of all time." That should be proof enough.

 

Serena has dominated in toughest era

By Chris Myson

On and off the court, Serena has had a monumental impact in taking women’s tennis to incredible heights.

Twenty-one years after her first grand slam title at the 1999 US Open, she remains a fierce contender for the sport's biggest accolades, having changed the game with her unrivalled talent, athleticism and longevity.

Seven Wimbledon titles, six US Open crowns and three French Open wins are on her record.

Throw in another seven Australian Open victories, including her remarkable 2017 triumph while pregnant with her daughter, and you have a resume that may never be topped.

Thirty-three major finals in a 20-year span is a statistic made all the more remarkable when you factor in she missed 15 slams over that period.

Serena held all four grand slams when she won in Australia in 2003, while 11 years later she was celebrating a three-peat at Flushing Meadows by beating close friend Caroline Wozniacki.

Not that it is needed to bolster her claim, but Serena has also won 14 women's doubles majors with her sister Venus, having never lost a grand slam final in that format.

She has two mixed doubles crowns as well, taking her total major haul to 39.

Most significantly, these incredible feats have taken place in the modern era, where the level of competition has never been so strong and so deep, due to the global growth of tennis.

Top-tier rivals are more plentiful than in the eras of Graf, Navratilova and Court, while they are stronger, fitter, better equipped and more prepared than ever before.

Serena’s impact and staggering commercial success off the court has paved the way for future generations like Osaka to thrive.

But it is her play on it that means her place as the greatest women's player of all time is secure, even if the cancellation of Wimbledon has made her path to the elusive 24th crown more complicated.

The Davis Cup and Fed Cup have both been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was confirmed on Friday.

Due to be hosted in Madrid, the Davis Cup Finals were supposed to have taken place from November 23-29, but following a three-month review it was deemed too challenging to stage this year.

Organisers Kosmos Tennis and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) pointed to the fact more than 90 athletes would have been expected to be involved, while the international event attracts thousands of fans, officials, staff and other stakeholders from across the globe, with many countries at differing stages of the pandemic.

With the competition now set to begin on November 22, 2021, it was confirmed the 18 teams that have already qualified for the men's global team tournament will have their places secured, while the draw for the finals remains the same.

Kosmos president and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said: "It's a huge disappointment for all of us that the Davis Cup Finals will not be held in 2020.

"We don't know how the situation will develop in each qualified nation, or if restrictions in Spain will remain sufficiently eased, as such it is impossible to predict the situation in November and guarantee the safety of those travelling to Madrid.

"This postponement has no long-term bearing on our collective ambitions for the Davis Cup. The ITF and Kosmos Tennis look forward to delivering an outstanding competition in 2021, when it is safe and feasible to do so."

The women's equivalent, the Fed Cup, has also unsurprisingly hit a similar stumbling block and will now take place from April 13-18.

Budapest remains its location and, much like the Davis Cup, the teams that have already qualified will retain their places. The Fed Cup Play-offs will go ahead at the start of February.

Neither postponement has come as a surprise, particularly following the chaos caused by the Adria Tour event earlier this month.

Organised by world number one Novak Djokovic and played across locations in Serbia and Croatia, the event did not adhere to social distancing procedures and attracted large crowds. Legs in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina were ultimately postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Several of the marquee players ended up testing positive for the virus, including Djokovic himself, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, and the event was met with widespread criticism.

Goran Ivanisevic, the former Wimbledon champion who now coaches Novak Djokovic, has tested positive for coronavirus.

The Croatian announced the news on Instagram, revealing it took a third test to confirm he had been infected.

Ivanisevic, 48, was a director of the Adria Tour, the recent ill-fated set of tournaments that Djokovic put on in an effort to raise money for charity.

Four Adria Tour players, including world number one Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ivanisevic wrote: "Unfortunately, after two negative tests in the last 10 days, I have just found out that I tested positive for COVID-19.

"I feel good and don't have any symptoms. I would like to inform everyone who has been in contact with me that I tested positive and ask them to take extra good care of themselves and their loved ones.

"I will continue to self-isolate as I have been doing already. I wish everyone who got infected a speedy recovery."

Ivanisevic, who was famously a wild-card entrant when he landed the 2001 Wimbledon title, was closely involved in the Zadar leg of the tour last weekend, mixing with Djokovic and a host of leading men's tennis stars as they visited Croatia.

As Novak Djokovic and the Adria Tour gang cavorted in a Belgrade nightclub, the limbo-dancing tennis stars demonstrated precisely how low the sport could go.

If the president of the ATP player council can get it so egregiously wrong in a time of global crisis, and if Nick Kyrgios can pipe up as the voice of reason, then tennis has just thrown up the most shocking of double faults within its established conventions.

So tennis is in crisis: Wimbledon is cancelled, the US Open will attempt to go ahead without fans, and the French Open is clinging to hope it could happen starting in September.

People have lost their jobs, tournaments have been scrapped and might struggle to return, and coronavirus has caused untold damage, aided and abetted by bewildering human assistance.

A relief fund for low-ranked players whose livelihoods were under threat was openly scorned by multi-millionaire Dominic Thiem, whose argument was put brutally dismantled by near-penniless Algerian player Ines Ibbou.

This is tennis then, midway through 2020.

What's happened so far?

The season was suspended on March 12, days after the Indian Wells Masters was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, and there has been no tennis on the ATP or WTA Tours since.

Rafael Nadal said in May that he doubted there could be any more tennis played in 2020, but the harsh economic reality means there is a strong will to find a way.

And that means tennis is coming back in August, public health and player buffoonery permitting, with a string of tournaments leading up to the US Open, which has kept its regular place on the calendar.

The Cincinnati Masters is moving to Flushing Meadows, but Washington is staying in D.C., and Kitzbuhel, Rome and Madrid are all billed ahead of Roland Garros.

On the women's side, tennis will relaunch in Palermo, Italy, with 20 tournaments scheduled to happen before the end of the year.

Wimbledon, to which the eyes of the sporting world routinely turn at this time of year, looks poised to come out of this intact because of pandemic insurance cover.

Other tournaments have not been so prudent, and are feeling the pinch.

How realistic is a resumption?

If anyone needed a warning about how badly wrong this could all go, Djokovic's exhibition Adria Tour at least provided that. That he, Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki – others too – should test positive for COVID-19 was a damning indictment of an event set up with good intentions that descended into an apparent free-for-all.

Tennis within a bio-secure bubble, with regular testing and restrictions on movement, should allow the sport to push ahead with some of its plans.

But that is a highly expensive exercise and many tournaments will inevitably come to rely on self-policing.

Tennis without fans, living out of hotels, promises to be an austere experience. At the US Open, the stars will be able to see the Manhattan skyline, but they reportedly face being banned from visiting the island.

For the players that cannot afford to rent a house – which will come from a limited supply – then the US Open fortnight will see them split their time between Flushing Meadows and a hotel next to JFK airport.

It will take discipline to make not only the US Open work, but every tournament until the end of the season and beyond. Pockets of infection could be economically ruinous, and from a health perspective the worst-case scenario ought to be lost on nobody.

What has been said?

Serena Williams says she "really cannot wait to return to New York". Her involvement is a huge boon to the US Open, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in need of good news, having made 110 job cuts during the pandemic period, change in the organisation hastened by the crisis.

In a recent conference call, USTA chief executive Mike Dowse said US Open net operating income stood to be down by "about 80 per cent" for 2020, but he said keeping prize-money at a high level by delving into reserves amid the fall in revenue was "not a model that can continue".

Expect that to be the case practically across the board, with tournaments pulling out all the stops this year in the hope of saving tennis from the prospect of a season all but wiped out.

While the grand slams can just about cope without fans, many other events face an uncertain future if they face behind-closed-doors orders.

Herwig Straka, who manages Thiem and is tournament director of the Vienna Open, told German newspaper Der Standard the event would be "doable" provided it could operate at least at 50 per cent of crowd capacity.

"It is of course not enough," Straka said. "We'd be in the red. We don't want the public to take a year off. It would be impossible below 40 per cent."

Saint Nick?

Australian firebrand Kyrgios has quite the rap sheet, punished at various points for insulting umpires, his vulgar tongue, and even showing a lack of effort.

But this has been open season for the mercurial 25-year-old, who sniped after the news of Djokovic's positive test: "Don't @ me for anything I've done that has been 'irresponsible' or classified as 'stupidity' - this takes the cake."

If Kyrgios is enjoying his break from the tour, so too must the umpires be relishing their time away from him.

His greatest misstep during the pandemic, however, appears to have been going perhaps a touch heavy on the red wine during an Instagram live session with Andy Murray in May.

What happens next?

For all the best intentions, it remains hard to imagine every ATP and WTA tournament going ahead as planned, once the season resumes.

Tennis, like golf, relies on its biggest stars travelling from city to city, country to country, and the speed at which this virus moves and takes hold is hardly conducive to such a lifestyle.

Golf's PGA Tour is already encountering problems, and so will tennis.

The sport is living on the edge. At this point, it needs its star players to be setting a high bar, rather than going low, danger-dancing like nobody's watching.

Andy Murray said he felt his troublesome hip after the former world number one reached the Battle of the Brits semi-finals.

Murray's comeback gathered pace with a 6-3 7-5 win over countryman James Ward at the six-day charity event on Thursday.

The three-time grand slam champion, who had not played competitively since November due to a bruised pelvis and the coronavirus-enforced break, battled warm conditions to advance in Roehampton.

While physically exhausted, Murray said his movement was not affected against Ward.

"It's been tough, it's been unbelievably hot conditions in here," Murray said afterwards at the National Tennis Centre.

"I know it's not the worst situation to be in but usually if you're playing a match you'll find a cold space to go to and build up to the match and dropping your body temperature.

"But here there's no air conditioning allowed, it's pretty hot everywhere and it's quite draining.

"I've been feeling it a little bit and obviously I've played three matches, the last two were a pretty high level, it's been tough but I did quite well.

"Physically, it was a very tough match. I felt my hip a little bit but it did not affect my movement.

"When I played in November at the Davis Cup it was – my hip was sore and I was struggling to move.

"I felt I moved the best I had done in the three matches so that's a positive. I'm delighted I have a rest day tomorrow as I'm very tired."

Dominic Thiem said he was "extremely sorry" for the way players acted at the Adria Tour after four of them contracted coronavirus having competed at the tournament.

World number one Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki tested positive for COVID-19 having taken part in a charity exhibition series that took place in Belgrade and then Zadar.

Large crowds were present at the event, where players shook hands and posed for photos with volunteers, while some were also seen partying at a nightclub despite concerns over a lack of social distancing measures.

Thiem won the Belgrade leg but did not compete in Zadar, and while his coronavirus tests have come back negative, he was apologetic.

"I was shocked when I got the news from the Adria Tour," the world number three said on Instagram.

"We played without any audience for weeks, so we have been more than happy about the fans at the event.

"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.

"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 a quick recovery."

The Austrian's statement came after this manager, Herwig Straka, suggested the blame should lie at Djokovic's door given he was the driving force behind the Adria Tour's creation amid the pandemic.

"I have to give the main blame to Djokovic," Straka told Der Standard.

"Okay, the others took part, but he was very behind it. Originally from honourable motives - the focus was on the charity concept. 

"But it went in the wrong direction, was misused as a publicity show. You have to blame Djokovic for that."

Straka added: "Everyone knows it was stupid. The only one who has to apologise is Djokovic because he staged everything."

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