Novak Djokovic causes controversy with comments on Alexander Zverev

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Novak Djokovic, pictured here speaking to the media at the ATP Finals.
Novak Djokovic speaks to the media at the ATP Finals. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has divided tennis fans and commentators after being asked to comment on domestic violence allegations against Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic beat Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on Friday to advance to the semi-finals of the ATP Finals, where he will play US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

The World No.1 was then asked to address the shocking allegations levelled at Zverev by ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova, and whether or not he thought tennis should have a domestic violence policy.

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Zverev, who won the 2018 ATP Finals in London, has been competing under the shadow of serious abuse claims made by Sharypova.

He strongly denies the allegations, which were made by the former junior player on Instagram and in two media interviews, but has not addressed them in any detail.

The ATP, which runs the men’s tour, had been criticised for not making any public comment until last week, when it issued a generic statement saying it “fully condemns any form of violence or abuse”.

Novak Djokovic comments on Zverev situation

Several major American sports have a policy setting out a procedure to be followed in such situations, and Djokovic believes tennis should go down the same route.

“I've known Sascha (Zverev) for a very long time since he was very young,” he said.

“I always had a great relationship with him, he's a very nice guy. I have a lot of respect for him, his family.

“I was sad to hear that he’s going through something like this.

“I don't know what happened. Obviously I’m not supporting any kind of violence. Whether ATP should develop a policy? Yes, why not? Probably it should be there in place.”

Tennis has largely closed ranks around Zverev, with Aussie star Daria Gavrilova a notable exception in saying she believes Sharypova.

Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, pictured here after their clash at the ATP World Tour Finals.
Novak Djokovic embraces Alexander Zverev after their clash at the ATP World Tour Finals. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

However Djokovic went the other way on Friday and offered the German his full support.

“He’s been handling it well by the looks of his results in the last month-and-a-half or so,” Djokovic said.

“He’s been doing well considering he’s got a lot on his plate off the court.

“I sincerely wish for him that he overcomes this soon and that he can focus on his life and tennis career.”

Djokovic’s comments were slammed by some fans and members of the media, with many believing he should have been stronger on his stance.

Many were also fuming that Djokovic never mentioned the alleged victim.

However many more didn’t see a problem with Djokovic’s remarks.

Top four advance to ATP Finals semis

Djokovic ensured the world’s top four players reached the semi-finals of the ATP Finals for the first time since 2004 with his straight-sets victory.

World No.2 Rafael Nadal will take on fourth-ranked Daniil Medvedev in the second semi-final.

Djokovic is aiming for a record-tying sixth title at the season-ending tournament, and a first since 2015, while Nadal is trying for the 10th time to win his maiden crown at the elite eight-man event.

Medvedev warmed up for his final-four showdown by blowing away Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 in the empty O2 Arena, to top his group with three consecutive victories.

with agencies

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