Novak Djokovic's father in shock move for Australian Open final

Novak Djokovic was missing a huge figure in his player's box for the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Novak Djokovic (pictured left) celebrating a point and (pictured right) Djokovic serving in the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic's father, Srdjan, did not attend the Australian Open final, despite Craig Tiley saying he was free to make an appearance. (Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic's father opted not to attend the Australian Open final, despite tournament boss Craig Tiley announcing he would be free to attend Rod Laver Arena for his son's match against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic won Sunday night's final 6-3 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5), capturing his 22nd grand slam title to go equal with Rafa Nadal's men's record.

However Djokovic's father Srdjan wasn't in attendance to witness it. Srdjan was captured posing with pro-Russia spectators on Wednesday night following his son's quarter-final victory over Andrey Rublev, which sparked enormous controversy.

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Following the drama, Srdjan opted not to attend the semi-final on Friday night to stay away from the furore that he unwittingly stirred up. But in what was sure to be a controversial move, Tiley revealed Djokovic's father was free to take his place at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night after accepting the Serb had inadvertently been swept up in the drama.

"It's his decision. We're going to let it be his decision and ultimately he's got to make the call," Tiley told AAP on Sunday afternoon.

"He didn't breach any event policy. That's really important because what's been written about what he (allegedly) said hasn't been correct and I think people are back-tracking from that. That's unfortunate that massive assumptions were made."

But in a fresh twist, Djokovic's father did not appear at Rod Laver Arena to watch the start the match. Djokovic went on to win his 22nd grand slam title to draw level with Rafa Nadal. Regardless, fans noticed the major absence in Djokovic's player's box.

Four spectators were questioned by Victoria Police on Wednesay night after sporting Russia flags featuring Vladimir Putin's face, while some were seen wearing shirts with the pro-war 'Z' symbol on them. Tennis Australia previously announced that Russia flags - both past and present - were completely banned from the grounds at Melbourne Park.

After the images emerged on social media, Srdjan Djokovic was then photographed mingling and speaking to the pro-Russia supporters. He later released a statement saying it had not been his intention to get caught in such controversy. He also added he and his family understood the unnecessary consequences of war, and revealed he had decided not to attend Friday night's semi-final match.

"I am here to support my son only. I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption,” the statement read. “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 semi-final 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.”

An empty seat, pictured here in the player's box of Novak Djokovic where his father would have been.
An empty seat can be seen in the player's box of Novak Djokovic where his father would have been. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Craig Tiley defends Novak Djokovic family

Backlash has been swift after the images were released, which saw Djokovic defend his father. And Tiley told reporters that he believed Srdjan wasn't aware of the situation he had put himself in.

"I know him personally and his family was devastated by what happened. It was not intentional and I agree with him and it was not designed to cause harm to anyone," Tiley added. "It was an unfortunate situation and the Serbian fans have been great. Every day they've been very active and noisy and boisterous and that adds to the whole colour of the event.

"Then you've got two or three or, in this case, four individuals that ruined it and they got evicted and are not welcome back. Ideally he didn't get caught up in that but, in that moment, you don't know and that's unfortunate that that happened because we'r'e a platform, we're a global platform, and any little thing like that starts to take on a life of its own, which it didn't need to."

Novak Djokovic's mother and father, pictured here after his win in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Novak Djokovic's mother and father look on after his win in the Australian Open quarter-finals. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Djokovic had earlier revealed that his father simply thought he was mingling with Serbian fans. "It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened has escalated to such a high level," he told reporters. "There was, I would say, a lot of conversations with tournament director, with media and everyone else.

"It has got to me, of course, as well. I was not aware of it until last night. Then, of course, I was not pleased to see that. My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during the '90s. 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."

with AAP

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