Djokovic’s father responds after Russian protest row (VIDEO)
Novak Djokovic's father, Srdjan, did not attend his son’s Australian Open semifinal match against Tommy Paul on Friday after saying he was unknowingly caught up in a pro-Russia demonstration following the Serb’s match with Andrey Rublev earlier this week.
Footage appeared online on Thursday which showed Srdjan Djokovic standing alongside a man carrying a Russian flag with an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin on it. The man was also wearing a shirt bearing the ‘Z’ symbol, which is associated with Russian troops in Ukraine.
It was confirmed after Djokovic’s match with Russia’s Andrey Rublev that a small number of supporters had been detained and questioned by Australian authorities for breaking an order banning the display of the Russian tricolor throughout the Grand Slam tennis tournament.
In a statement issued by his representatives, Srdjan Djokovic confirmed that he would be absent from Friday’s match involving his son and added that he had not intended to cause “disruption” at the event.
Srdjan Djokovic, tatăl tenismenului, cu drapelul rus pe Rod Laver Arena la Australian Open .... pic.twitter.com/uHAvaiUFXF— Cosmin Cozma (@CosminCozma20) January 26, 2023
“I am here to support my son only. I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption,” he said.
“I was outside with Novak’s fans as I have done after all of my son’s matches to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them. I had no intention of being caught up in this.
“My family has lived through the horror of war, and we wish only for peace. So there is no disruption to tonight’s semifinal for my son or for the other player, I have chosen to watch from home.
“I wish for a great match and I will be cheering for my son, as always.”
The ban on Russian flags at the tournament was implemented following an early-round encounter between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova, with Russian supporters accused of disrupting the match.
Later in the tournament, a match involving Rublev was briefly interrupted when a Ukrainian flag was draped over advertising hoardings. The Russian subsequently complained to the chair umpire that he was receiving verbal abuse from a section of supporters.
Addressing the issue involving Srdjan Djokovic, Tennis Australia said: “After the events of Wednesday night, we acted swiftly to work with police and our security teams to have the instigators of the protest removed from the venue.
“Throughout the event we’ve spoken with players and their teams about the importance of not engaging in any activity that causes distress or disruption.
“Mr. Srdjan Djokovic has issued a statement confirming that he will not attend tonight’s semifinal.
“We will continue to strive for the safety of fans at the event and reiterate our position banning flags from Belarus and Russia.
“Tennis Australia stands with the call for peace and an end to war and violent conflict in Ukraine.”