Novak Djokovic Defends Father Over Russia Flag Controversy, Hopes He Can Attend Final


Novak Djokovic has defended his father and said he did not intend to pose for pictures with supporters of Vladimir Putin at the Australian Open.

Djokovic’s father Srdjan caused controversy on Wednesday when he was filmed standing next to a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it, and a man who wore the ‘Z’ logo that indicates support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Srdjan Djokovic insisted earlier on Friday that he was unwittingly caught up in the pro-Russian demonstration, which took place in Melbourne Park following Djokovic’s quarter-final victory over the Russian player Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic’s father did not attend his son’s semi-final match against Tommy Paul as he did not want to be a “disruption” and the Serbian explained after the match that the images were a “misinterpretation” of what happened.

Djokovic said his father unknowingly stopped to greet the pro-Russian demonstrators, thinking they were holding Serbian flags. The 35-year-old also refuted allegations that his father had said “Long live Russia” when leaving the group, insisting the phrase had been mistranslated.

Djokovic, who hopes to have his father back in his box for Sunday’s Australian Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, said: “It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level.

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

He added: “There was no intention. It can happen. It can happen to many people, what happened to him. He was passing through, made a photo, it has escalated.”

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