Novak Djokovic’s father stays AWAY from Australian Open final following controversial pro-Russian celebrations…despite being allowed to attend the decider at Rod Laver Arena
Novak Djokovic’s father opted to stay away from the Australian Open final on Sunday, following his controversial interaction with Vladimir Putin supporters on Wednesday.
Srdjan Djokovic was filmed with a man wearing a ‘Z’ T-shirt [denoting support for Russian armed forces] and behind a flag sporting the face of the Russian president.
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.
Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan (right) opted to stay away from the Australian Open final
While he maintained that he was merely wishing to thank Novak’s fans for their support, the footage sparked uproar and Djokovic Snr did not attend his son’s semi-final win over Tommy Paul on Friday.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, called for tournament organisers to prevent Djokovic Snr from watching his son take on Stefanos Tsitsipas at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
But just hours before the start of the final, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley revealed Djokovic’s father was 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.
The seat Djokovic Snr normally occupies next to his wife Djana (second row) was left empty
Djokovic (second left) was seen 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.’
However, Djokovic’s father was conspicuously absent at the Rod Laver Arena, with the seat next to his wife Dijana left empty.
Ahead of the semi-final on Friday, Djokovic Snr said he’d opted to stay away to avoid becoming a distraction.
‘I am here to support my son only,’ he said in a statement.
‘I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption. I was outside with Novak’s fans as I have done after all my son’s matches to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them.
‘I had no intention of being caught up with this.’
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.
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