Novak Djokovic's dad caught up in 'disgusting' Australian Open scenes
Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan has left fans unimpressed after posing with a group of disruptive Russia supporters.
Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan Djokovic has courted controversy after posing with fans decked out in pro-Russia clothing outside the Australian Open. Four spectators who attended Djokovic's quarter-final victory over Russia's Andrey Rublev were thrown out for waving Russian flags, which have been banned by tournament officials.
Flags from all nations have been banned at the 2023 Australian Open in order to prevent disruptions from protests, as well as to show respect to Ukrainian players. Some of the spectators ejected from Thursday night's quarter final, as well as those pictured outside, were wearing pro-war 'Z' symbol.
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In a video posted to YouTube on Thursday, Srdjan Djokovic was filmed with the pro-Russian spectators, briefly speaking to the camera in Serbian before he walked off. After Djokovic demolished Rublev in straight sets to cruise through to his 10th Australian Open semi-final, fans chanted "Russia, Serbia". It is unclear whether Srdjan knew that the men he was posing with held such a pro-war stance.
The four men ejected from the quarter final are reportedly under investigation by Victoria Police. Tennis Australia had initially permitted spectators to bring Russian and Belarusian banners to Melbourne Park, as long as they did not cause disruption, but the policy was quickly reversed.
"A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted," a Tennis Australia statement read. "One patron is now assisting police with unrelated matters.
"Players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to disrupt. We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies."
This is…quite a mess for the #AusOpen, to say the least.
Srdjan Djokovic posing with the pro-Putin rally last night just outside Rod Laver Arena.
The levels of security breakdowns that allowed for this are staggering.
Story/video via @jamesgraysport:https://t.co/L4gtaKKNP6 pic.twitter.com/qnOx3MGYqB
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 26, 2023
Just took a walk around Melbourne Park after filing and a group of people were standing on the Rod Laver Arena steps, holding up a flag with Vladimir Putin’s face and chanting in support of Russia. pic.twitter.com/2p0LfkyVC3
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 25, 2023
— Olympia Pilafidis, AIA (@OlyPil) January 25, 2023
Rublev was one of two Russian players still in contention in the singles draw on Wednesday. Compatriot Karen Khachanov will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Friday.
In the women's draw, Belarusian players Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka are both in the semi-finals. Both Russian and Belarusian players have been playing without a flag next to their names throughout the grand slam at Melbourne Park.
Last year Wimbledon made the controversial decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus due to Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The ATP and WTA tours then retaliated by stripping the grand slam of rankings points.
Novak Djokovic determined to make winning Australian Open comeback
Djokovic declared himself intent on banishing the bitter memories of last year's deportation debacle and adding a 10th Australian Open crown to his collection. With the super Serb's form surging and a leg injury seemingly behind him, Djokovic was already a prohibitive favourite entering Friday's semi-final against the unseeded Tommy Paul at Melbourne Park.
But now the nine-times champion admits "something extra" is driving his push to match Rafael Nadal's record 22 men's grand slam singles titles. "I don't think that I lack determination," Djokovic said on Thursday.
"I always try to give my best, particularly in grand slams because at this stage of my career those are the tournaments that count the most, of course. But you could say that there is something extra this year. You could say because of the injury, what happened last year.
"I just wanted to really do well. So far I have a perfect score in Australian hard courts, in Adelaide and here (this year). I've been playing better and better. I couldn't ask for a better situation to be in at the moment."
Djokovic's steely approach appears to spell doom for Paul, who will be contesting his maiden grand slam semi-final against tennis' would-be GOAT who has never lost a last-four encounter at Melbourne Park.
The 35-year-old is unbeaten in 39 matches in Australia since 2018 and, ominously, dropped a meagre 12 games in his past six sets against world No.6 Andrey Rublev and Australia's 24th seed Alex de Minaur.
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