Djokovic’s father to watch semi-final from home
|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates:16-29 January|
|Coverage: Commentary every day from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra ‘Tennis Breakfast’ live from Melbourne, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the BBC Sport website & app|
Srjdan Djokovic will watch his son Novak’s Australian Open semi-final from home to avoid causing “disruption” after being pictured with supporters of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The 62-year-old was photographed with a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it after his son’s win over Russian Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.
Nine-time champion Novak faces American Tommy Paul in Melbourne on Friday.
“I am here to support my son only,” Srdjan said in a statement.
The images of Srdjan also featured a man wearing a T-shirt printed with the pro-war Z symbol following Djokovic’s quarter-final victory.
Russian and Belarusian flags and symbols have been banned at Melbourne Park since a Russian flag was displayed during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova on the opening day.
Srdjan 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 [the] semi-final 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.”
Tennis Australia has responded to the controversy and said it “stands with the call for peace and an end to war and violent conflict in Ukraine”.
The statement added: “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 semi-final.
“We will continue to strive for the safety of fans at the event and reiterate our position banning flags from Belarus and Russia.”