Novak Djokovic’s family ‘upset’ over flag uproar as Australian Open chief urges them ‘to be really careful’
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley “spent a fair amount of time” in discussion with Novak Djokovic and his family after Srdjan Djokovic was pictured with pro-Vladimir Putin activists earlier in the week.
Djokovic senior was pictured with pro-Russia demonstrators outside Rod Laver Arena following his son’s quarter-final victory over Andrey Rublev on Wednesday with one supporter wearing a t-shit bearing the Z symbol that demonstrates support for the invasion of Ukraine.
Srdjan issued a statement on Friday to say he was unwittingly caught up in the drama, saying: “I am here to support my son only. I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption.
“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.”
Following his semi-final win over Tommy Paul, 21-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic said the incident was “misinterpreted”.
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“It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level. There was, I would say, a lot of conversations with tournament director, with media and everyone else,” he said.
The former world No 1 added: “My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during ’90s. As my father put in a statement, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war.”
In an interview with The Age, Tiley confirmed that he held talks with the Djokovic family.
“I did spend a fair amount of time talking to the Djokovic family,” he said.
The tournament chief added: “My advice is that you have to be really careful because if this is an event of global significance, it’s a platform.
“When you have hundreds of thousands of people to come through the gate, you’re going to naturally have some people that are coming here with an intention to be disruptive, and don’t get yourself caught in the middle of that.
“And they completely understand that. The family were very good. They were upset that it was taken that way. There was no intention of it.
“His dad particularly does not support war, and they’re very focused on supporting peace.”
Srdjan Djokovic opted to skip his son’s semi-final match against Paul on Friday, but he is yet to confirm if he will attend Sunday’s final against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Rod Laver Arena.
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