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Novak Djokovic’s dad, Srdjan Djokovic, responds to Putin flag video


Novak Djokovic’s dad will not be courtside for his son’s Australian Open semi-final against Tommy Paul on Friday night in the fallout to posing with pro-Putin demonstrators earlier in the week.

The tournament has been tossed into scandal after police detained four men outside Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night following Djokovic’s quarter-final win over Russian Andrey Rublev.

Spectators inside Melbourne Park were seen with pro-war signs and flags featuring the face of Putin as they chanted outside the stadium.

A video posted on YouTube now appears to show Djokovic’s dad, Srdjan, posing with a group of men who were also seen waving the Russian flags which have been banned from the Australian Open.

Djokovic waves to his parents following his quarterfinal win on Wednesday in Melbourne.
Djokovic waves to his parents (top right) following his quarterfinal win on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Newsagency inews.co.uk first reported the video which appears to show Srdjan telling one of the demonstrators “Long live the Russians” in a loose translation.

Those translations were corrected by Serbian journalist @ozmo_sasa who noted that Srdjan said “Živeli, ljudi”, meaning “cheers, guys”.

In a video posted on the YouTube channel Aussie Cossack, the father of the nine-time Australian Open champion was seen alongside a man who was wearing a T-shirt that prominently featured the pro-war ‘Z’ symbol.

The video also shows that the group of Russian activists was able to stage its demonstration for an extended period of time before security intervened.

Tennis Australia earlier confirmed four spectators were detained by police and were further questioned.

A statement from Victoria Police has confirmed all four men were evicted from the event.

But rather than pretend like nothing happened, Srdjan will sit out his sons semi-final, releasing a statement on Friday.

“I am here to support my son only,” the statement read. “I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption.

Djokovic is set to play American Tommy Paul in Friday's semifinal in Melbourne, Australia.
Djokovic is set to play American Tommy Paul in Friday’s semifinal in Melbourne, Australia.
Getty Images

“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 semi-final for my son or for the other player, I have chosen to watch from home.

“I wish for a great match and will be cheering for my son, as always.”

The statement also said Novak did not wish to make any comments.

The images sparked plenty of backlash including from Nine commentator Sam Smith who said Novak would “devastated” by the images.

Former Aussie tennis star turned Victorian member of parliament Sam Groth tweeted: “Acts of incitement have no place in our state and no place at our major events.

“The Australian Open must be a welcoming, safe and inclusive event for all, not an opportunity to express a harmful and offensive agenda or deliberately intimidate others.

Djokovic wished to not make comment on the matter.
Djokovic did not make comment on the matter.

“Melbourne and Victoria are on the world’s stage and our reputation as a major events capital is on the line. It isn’t good enough for the State Government to avoid responsibility and buck pass to others.

“The State Government and event organisers must today explain what actions they are taking to put an end to these unacceptable behaviours.”

Former Ukrainian tennis star Alexander Dolgopolov called for the supporters, including Djokovic’s dad to be banned over the drama.

“Absolutely disgusting. Politics should be kept out of sports they said. These people have absolutely no business in being on tennis tournaments, including @DjokerNole father, if they openly praise a genocidal regime,” he wrote.


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