MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic‘s father, Srdjan Djokovic, will be absent from his son’s Australian Open semifinal against Tommy Paul, saying in a statement Friday that he does not want to be a “disruption” to the match.
Following Novak Djokovic’s quarterfinal win over Russian Andrey Rublev on Wednesday evening, Srdjan Djokovic was filmed outside Rod Laver Arena posing and interacting with a group of supporters of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In a video posted to YouTube on Thursday, Srdjan Djokovic posed next to a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it and wearing a T-shirt with the “Z” symbol that has become synonymous with support for the war in Ukraine.
“I am here to support my son only. I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption,” Srdjan Djokovic said in a statement ahead of the semifinals at Melbourne Park. “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 semifinal 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 initially allowed Russian and Belarusian flags to be brought into Melbourne Park but reversed the decision on Day 2 of the tournament, banning them along with any flags or items of clothing featuring either the Russian Eagles or “Z” symbol.
Victoria Police continue to investigate four people who broke these rules during Djokovic’s quarterfinal against Rublev, including the man in the video.
The winner of Friday night’s semifinal between Djokovic and the unseeded American Paul will face either world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas or Karen Khachanov in the final.
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