"I can only see criticism lately and much of it is malicious," Djokovic said to Serbian newspaper Sportski Zurnal (h/t Reuters via The Guardian). "It's obviously more than just criticism, it's like an agenda and a witch-hunt are on. Someone has to take the fall, a big name."
Djokovic helped launch the Adria Tour, which was an exhibition event spread across four European cities. Djokovic was slated to face Andrey Rublev on June 21 in Zadar, Croatia, when the decision was made to scrap the tournament altogether.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion confirmed he and his wife, Jelena, had tested positive for COVID-19:
ESPN.com's Peter Bodo wrote that many were concerned with the lack of health and safety protocols put into place to account for the ongoing pandemic:
"The images of thousands of fans sitting elbow-to-elbow, none wearing face masks, with ball persons and linespeople deployed in the customary, pre-coronavirus fashion, sounded alarm bells. So did the way the players hugged, exchanged high-fives and played pickup games of basketball and soccer in their spare time. The last straw, for many, was the video of players celebrating and dancing in a crowded Belgrade nightclub at the conclusion of the first leg."
Djokovic's colleague Nick Kyrgios had echoed the sentiment:
Djokovic told Sportski Zurnal that his "intention was pure" in reference to Adria Tour and that those involved "complied with all the laws and regulations."
He had previously received criticism in April when he said he'd have reservations about the prospect of mandatory vaccinations when a coronavirus vaccine is eventually developed.
Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the U.S. Tennis Association's plan to stage the U.S. Open starting Aug. 31. Djokovic, a three-time U.S. Open champion, told Sportski Zurnal he remains undecided on whether he will take part.