Australian Open boss explains why Novak Djokovic’s dad escaped ban from watching son play men’s final after being filmed in controversial pro-Russian celebration
- Srdjan Djokovic was filmed with fan in pro-Russian T-shirt
- He was threatened with being barred from men’s final
- Tournament boss Craig Tiley opted not to enforce ban
Tournament director Craig Tiley has given Novak Djokovic’s father the green light to attend the Australian Open final.
Srdjan Djokovic watched his son’s semi-final win over Tommy Paul off site to avoid becoming a disruption following the emergence of a video of him with Vladimir Putin fans last Wednesday night.
Will he or won’t he be back courtside as Djokovic bids to claim a 10th Open crown with victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas has been a huge talking point in the lead-up to Sunday’s night’s title match.
But Tiley has revealed Djokovic’s father is free to take his place at Rod Laver Arena after accepting the Serb had inadvertently been swept up in the flags drama.
‘It’s his decision. We’re going to let it be his decision and ultimately he’s got to make the call,’ Tiley said on Sunday.
Djokovic’s father Srdjan (pictured together) has been given the green light to watch his son play Stefanos Tsitsipas as he tries to win a record-equalling 22nd grand slam
Srdjan (circled) was seen at the Australian Open with a fan holding a Russian flag sporting Putin’s face and donning a T-shirt featuring the Z symbol of the Russian armed forces
‘He didn’t breach any event policy. That’s really important because what’s been written about what he (allegedly) said hasn’t been correct and I think people are back-tracking from that.
‘That’s unfortunate that massive assumptions were made.’
Russian flags, the Russian Eagle banner, Belarusian flags, and items of clothing with the Z symbol are prohibited at Melbourne Park amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Tiley said he believed that Djokovic’s father didn’t realise he was posing with people carrying Russian flags.
‘I know him personally and his family was devastated by what happened. It was not intentional and I agree with him and it was not designed to cause harm to anyone,’ Tiley said.
‘It was an unfortunate situation and the Serbian fans have been great. Every day they’ve been very active and noisy and boisterous and that adds to the whole colour of the event.
Australian Open boss Craig Tiley (pictured) refused to ban Djokovic’s father because he believes he didn’t know the people he was recorded with were openly supporting Russia
‘Then you’ve got two or three or, in this case, four individuals that ruined it and they got evicted and are not welcome back.
‘Ideally he didn’t get caught up in that but, in that moment, you don’t know and that’s unfortunate that that happened because we’r’e a platform, we’re a global platform, and any little thing like that starts to take on a life of its own, which it didn’t need to.’
Tiley’s green light to Djokovic’s father to return to Melbourne Park comes after the 21-time grand slam champion pleaded with fans to be respectful and not overstep the mark during the final.
Djokovic felt his father was ‘misused’ by pro-Russia fanatics and admitted the escalating saga had taken its toll during his bid for a 10th Open crown.
Djokovic has had run-ins with rowdy Aussie fans at this year’s Open and has pleaded with them to behave themselves and focus on tennis during the men’s singles final
Djokovic hopes fans will behave when he faces Greek cult hero Tstisipas.
‘The Serbs and Greeks historically get along very well. I just don’t think there’s going to be any conflict on and off the court in terms of the crowd,’ Djokovic said.
‘I’m confident that people will support their respective players in a respectful way, and let’s see what happens.
‘I hope that all the people who are going to come to the finals are going to be there for tennis and sport because that’s what we all wish for.
‘We all wish that players, fans, focus on tennis, celebrate this beautiful sport, marvel at one of the most special matches throughout the year, which is a slam final.’
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