'Terrible': Novak Djokovic 'shocked' over tennis star's disappearance

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Novak Djokovic (pictured left) during the Paris Masters Final and (pictured right) Peng Shuai (pictured right) during the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic (pictured left) said he has been 'shocked' to learn of the disappearance of Peng Shuai (pictured right) after her accusations against Zhang Gaoli. (Getty Images)

The WTA has attempted to allay fears Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is in danger after her sexual assault allegations against a now Chinese Ruling Party member, after World No.1 Novak Djokovic expressed his shock at the situation.

Peng, one of China's biggest sporting stars, reportedly hasn't been seen or heard from for more than a week after earlier this month claiming Zhang Gaoli coerced her into sex.

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Peng alleged on her Weibo social media account on November 2 that Gaoli, who became a member of the Politburo Standing Committee - China's top decision-making body - forced her into having sex despite repeated refusals following a round of tennis three years ago.

Her post also said they had sex once seven years ago and she had feelings for him after that.

Since the post, the WTA has called for an investigation into the incident.

However, Peng has not been heard from or spotted since her post, according to reports.

In a a worrying response, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he wasn't aware of the situation.

"I have not heard of the issue you raised," foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, according to AFP.

"This is is not a diplomatic question" and made no further comment on the subject.

Following widespread coverage of her disappearance, the WTA released a statement that tried to allay the tennis world's fears.

WTA director Steve Simon said they had received assurances Peng is safe in Beijing.

'We've received confirmation from several sources, including the Chinese Tennis Association, that she is safe and not under any physical threat," Simons said in a statement to the New York Times, according to AFP.

"My understanding is that she is in Beijing in China, but I can’t confirm that because I haven’t spoken directly with her."

Peng Shuai, pictured here in action at the Shenzhen Open in 2020.
Peng Shuai in action at the Shenzhen Open in 2020. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic decries Peng Shuai situation

Since the news, Djokovic has expressed his concern for Peng.

The World No.1 said he was 'shocked' to hear a member of the Tour was missing after such serious accusations.

"I don't have much information about it, I did hear about it a week ago, and honestly it's shocking that she's missing," Djokovic said.

"More so that it's someone that I've seen on the tour in previous years quite a few times."

Djokovic, who won his first match against Casper Ruud at the ATP Finals, said he was thinking of her family during these difficult times.

"There's not much more to say than to hope that she's okay and it's just terrible," the World No.1 added.

"I can imagine how her family feels, you know, that she's missing."

Tennis community rallies around Peng Shuai

Following reports Peng had gone missing, it prompted members of the tennis community to express concern.

“Yes, these accusations are very disturbing,” Evert tweeted on Sunday.

“I’ve known Peng since she was 14; we should all be concerned; this is serious; where is she? Is she safe? Any information would be appreciated.”

French player Nicholas Mahut tweeted: “The fact that Peng Shuai is missing is not only the WTA’s problem. We are all concerned."

Peng became the World No.1 doubles player in 2014, the first Chinese player to achieve a top ranking.

She has won 23 tour-level doubles titles, including at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014.

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