Craig Tiley, director of the Australian Open and Tennis Australia, has given an interview to the Australian newspaper The Age in which he wanted to talk about the issue that has surrounded the tournament in recent weeks: the return of Novak Djokovic after missing the 2022 edition due to his abrupt entry into the country as he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In the interview, Tiley is confident that the Australian public will receive Djokovic well despite what happened. “I am very confident that the Australian sporting public will be good to Djokovic. We are a very fair audience, we celebrate successes and reward them. We will support Australian tennis players with the memory of Ash Barty’s victory. The public will enjoy coming to the Australian Open and I think they will receive the players fairly.”
The manager also highlighted the great capacity they have had in organizing the tournament to hold the competition in 2021 and 2022 despite the pandemic. “We are focused on tomorrow, on hosting the biggest annual sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere and the biggest event in Australia. And at that time of year it is also the most important sports competition in the world. We are proud of it, of the people who come to the slopes and of the viewers who watch us on television all over the world. We all go through a difficult time during COVID. We were still able to host the tournament in 2021 and 2022 thanks to the support of the Victorian Government and it was great to be able to showcase the sport to the world.”
Tiley was also asked about the tournament’s efforts to try to get Djokovic to play in the tournament this year. “We were the first to hold the tournament both years worldwide and that’s why I look back with pride. A lot happened around Djokovic, but it wasn’t unexpected because it was something none of us had experienced before. When we look back, I think we did our best to get him to playand I can guarantee that we will do the same now and in the future”
Finally, Tiley highlighted Carlos Alcaraz’s options for the title, although he believes that, in his current state of form, Djokovic starts out as a great favorite for the title. “I think this could be the year of Alcaraz. I’ve been in office long enough to know that the Australian Open unveils the great tennis players of the future. But if you look at Djokovic’s current form, it can be said that he is the best tennis player in the world. He is an incredible tennis player and Melbourne is the place where he has won the most times. He really wants to not let the youngsters take the title away from him”.