Tiley says not resigning, denies Tennis Australia paying Djokovic legal fees

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Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley removes his mask during the draw for the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, January 13, 2022. Mark Baker/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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MELBOURNE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Embattled Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Thursday he would not be resigning over the Novak Djokovic saga and denied Tennis Australia (TA) were paying the Serbian's legal and travel expenses.

Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday night, hours after a Federal court dismissed his effort to stay in the country to play at the tournament where he hoped to win a record 21st Grand Slam title. read more

In his first interview since the world number one was removed from Australia, Tiley sidestepped questions about Tennis Australia's involvement in trying to get Djokovic into the country in the first place.

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"We've already addressed those questions and really now today we're just focusing on delivering a great event," the South African, who is also chief executive of Tennis Australia, told Channel 9 at Melbourne Park.

In an earlier interview during the saga with Channel 9, which holds the broadcast rights to the tournament, Tiley had defended Tennis Australia's role and blamed conflicting and quickly changing advice from government. read more

Tiley was booed earlier on Thursday when he made his first appearance on court at the tournament to hand a bouquet to Australian player Sam Stosur after her last singles match at the Grand Slam.

Two days after the Tennis Australia board released a statement "commending" him on his organisation of the event, Tiley was asked whether he would be resigning. read more

"No," he said. "We put a statement out recently and I'm very focused on putting on a great event."

He also responded to reports in local media that said Tennis Australia had paid for Djokovic's legal fees, his travel to Melbourne from Dubai and a house in the city that the world number one did not use.

"I've seen those reports," he said, "We don't really go into the detail of the financial arrangements we have with the players. Those reports are simply untrue."

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Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly, writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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