Novak Djokovic says his father had ‘no intention whatsoever to support any kind of war initiatives’



Novak Djokovic said his father, Srdjan, “has no intention” to support any kind of “war initiatives” after he was filmed with a group of Russian supporters at the Australian Open.

Djokovic reached his 10th Australian Open final on Friday by beating American Tommy Paul in straight sets. Before the match, tournament organizers said they had “briefed and reminded players and their entourages” of the tournament’s “policy regarding flags and symbols”.

A video emerged on Wednesday of Djokovic’s father showing a group of supporters holding the Russian flag and displaying the “Z” symbol, seen as a sign of support for Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.

The symbol has been seen on Russian equipment and clothing in Ukraine.

Srdjan Djokovic said he would not be in the stands to watch his son’s semi-final, adding that he was in Melbourne “only to support my son” and “had no intention of causing any such headlines or disruptions” .

After his victory against Paul on Friday, Djokovic said: “My father, my whole family and I went through several wars in the 1990s.

“As my father said in a statement, we are against war, we will never support violence or war. We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country going through the war.”

As a child growing up in Belgrade, Djokovic survived NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign in 1999which was intended to end the atrocities committed by forces of then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo.

Djokovic added that, as was the case at the Australian Open, his father had gone to meet fans, many of whom carried Serbian flags, to thank them for their support following his Australian Open quarterfinal.

“The photo he took was passing through,” Djokovic said. “I heard what he said in the video. He said, “Cheers.” Unfortunately, some media have interpreted this in a very wrong way.

“I’m sorry that has escalated like that. But I hope people understand that there was absolutely no intention to support war initiatives or anything like that.

“My father… He thought he was taking a picture with someone from Serbia. That is it. He continued.’

Asked if his father would be back in the stadium for Sunday’s final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Djokovic said he would wait and see.

“Of course it was not pleasant not to have him in the box [on Friday],” he said. “It’s a decision we made together. I just didn’t know how it was going to turn out, I guess.

“I hope to have him. I hope he feels good to be in court because I would love to have him there for the final.

Djokovic and Paul embrace at the net after their Australian Open semifinal.

The presence of Russian flags and symbols at the Australian Open has been a source of controversy throughout the tournament.

In the first week, organizers banned spectators from displaying Russian and Belarusian flags, and on Wednesday said four people had been evicted from Melbourne Park for displaying pro-war images.

Several Ukrainians, including current player Marta Kostyuk and former player Alexandr Dolgopolov, have spoken out against the presence of Russian flags and “Z” symbols at the tournament.

On the field, Djokovic has been in great form over the past two weeks and is the firm favorite to beat Tsitsipas in the men’s singles final.

Doing so would see him win his 10th Australian Open title and 22nd grand slam crown, placing him at the top of the all-time men’s list alongside Rafael Nadal.

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