Tournament director Craig Tiley, right, with Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic ©Getty Images

Tournament director Craig Tiley has claimed he received "significant" verbal abuse and was getting "hammered" when organising the Australian Open against the backdrop of a global health crisis - so much so that he moved his family away from their home.

Ahead of the tournament, Tiley, who is also the chief executive of Tennis Australia, took Zoom calls every day from players, coaches and entourage members making the trip to Melbourne in a bid to clarify COVID-19 protocols and help them through the two-week quarantine.

Preparations for the first Grand Slam of the year were overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic as 72 players and support staff were confined to their hotel rooms for two weeks after flying into Australia on planes where positive COVID-19 cases were found.

"I got abused on the calls - it was significant," Tiley said, according to the Daily Mail.

"There were a lot of complaints about a lot of things, and some of it was fine.

"We were just trying to do our best.

"So I made a decision that was I going to front it and I was going to take the heat from everyone, not anyone from my team.

"But normally when you take heat, you take it once.

"This was 15 straight days.

"It's like being attacked for 15 straight days, verbally."

Tiley described the sleep deprivation as "a form of torture", claiming at one stage he stayed awake for 50 hours.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, second right, said he struggled to sleep during preparations for the Australian Open ©Getty Images
Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley, second right, said he struggled to sleep during preparations for the Australian Open ©Getty Images

The 59-year-old said the stress was also "too much" for his family as he sent his wife, twin boys aged seven and eight-year-old daughter to a small town close to Melbourne, according to the Daily Mail.

"It was too hard because I don't think I was in a place to be effective when I was at home," added Tiley.

"So they left. 

"I was at home by myself for probably seven, eight days.

"And I needed to be - I was getting hammered.

"If you're getting hammered like that, it's probably better that you don't have people around you because I would have vented on someone else.

"They sensed there was a heavy black cloud over the house so they went and when everyone was out of quarantine and they started playing, they came back, and the kids went back to school."

Tiley previously revealed Tennis Australia was facing a multi-million-dollar loss due to running the tournament during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Open has taken place three weeks later than planned so those involved could isolate after their arrival in the country.

Spain's world number 13 Roberto Bautista Agut compared the quarantine conditions in Melbourne to being in a prison, while other players also took to social media to express their frustration at the situation.

Calls were made for the tournament to be pushed back again when many were confined to their hotel rooms for a fortnight, but it began on February 8 as planned.

Organisers were also impacted by a five-day lockdown ordered in Victoria, after local COVID-19 cases were detected.

Crowds were allowed back to watch the semi-finals and finals as Japan’s Naomi Osaka claimed the women’s singles crown and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic clinched the men’s singles title for the ninth time.

Djokovic said it was a "successful" tournament and congratulated organisers.

"They should be proud of themselves for what they have put together and allowed us to come to Australian and be standing here," said the world number one.

"Thank you for making this possible."