Ukrainian tennis star Sergiy Stakhovsky haș praised Novak Djokovic for a touching act of generosity during the bloody war with Russia.
Stakhovsky last week called out tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal for remaining silent when he contacted them for support over Russia's invasion of his homeland.
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The recently retired tennis star left his wife and kids in Hungary to join other Ukrainian athletes in taking up arms to defend his homeland from Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion.
While Djokovic has faced the world's scrutiny over his anti-vaccination stance and the fallout from his deportation from Australia, Stakhovsky has shared a side of the 20-time grand slam champion that may go some way to changing the public perception of the Serb.
The former World No.31 posted a screenshot to his Instagram account that showed a WhatsApp exchange between himself and Djokovic, and a touching offer of help from the Serb.
“Thinking of you... hope all calms down soon,” Djokovic said in a series of messages to Stakhovsky.
“Please let me know what would be the best address to send help. Financial help, any other help as well...”
Stakhovsky replied with a love heart and a thank you emoji, before revealing that he was on the ground in Ukraine's capital, Kiev.
The 36-yar-old's latest post came after fairly brutal swipe at Federer and Nadal, who he accused of failing to respond to his attempts to reach out over the situation in Ukraine.
“I also tried to contact Federer and Nadal but without success,” he said.
“I am sorry that you prefer to remain silent, although I understand them. It’s not their war.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky taking a stand against Russia
Stakhovsky recently returned to Kyiv to be part of the armed resistance following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
He has been especially active with media duties in the past few days, and as such he believes himself to be a marked man for speaking out against Vladimir Putin and Russia.
But the 36-year-old said he has been driven by a moral compass to fight the Russian forces despite having no formal military training.
"You have to be scared. I mean, if you don't [get] scared then you're stupid, I guess," Stakhovsky said.
"Then of course, you need to calculate all the circumstances and everything that could come out of it.
"I mean, I'm pretty sure that I'm on a nice list of the Russian army to, not be really – let's say – treated well. But it is what it is.
"Russia is a dictatorship state. If you show resistance, if you show that you don't agree with what they do, if you show that you don't want to have them here, they put you to the ground.
"They don't really argue with you. It's a state which is controlled by one man and the system is so rotten that it just eats up everybody who is not willing, who is actually expressing a different mind.
"So of course, it is scary, it is unpleasant. But... I can be scared in any part of the world. It's not going to change anything."
Concerns over what Ukraine surrender might mean
Stakhovsky, a father of three, felt he had an obligation to return to Kyiv to fight rather than stay with his family.
But he accepts there is only so much Ukrainians can do with the love, prayers and support of the world.
"I wouldn't want any father to make that choice [to fight] or to make the decision anytime, anywhere in the world," he continued.
"It's something that you don't really want to do. It's not, there's no right choice.
"In this case, I have three kids, which I have to raise, and I have to look after and I want to enjoy them finally, after finishing my career. And instead of that I'm here in Kyiv with a gun and trying to prove a point that Russia is doing the wrong thing."
Stakhovsky has urged politicians to do more without selling Ukraine out, and is convinced surrender will doom any Ukrainians who spoke out against Russia.
"The politicians are the main players in this whole area, and if they don't step up, if they don't save lives – because after all, the most important part in all of it in life is life itself – if they have a chance to save everything starting from tomorrow, they should," he said.
"But they should not on terms that [mean] we give up [in] Ukraine and we save lives [by surrendering], because that's killing lives because then after they surrender Ukraine, the Russian machine will find every single individual who was in the resistance, who was willing to fight, and they will kill him, or put him in prison.
"They will poison him, they would kill him, it doesn't matter how, but they will find a way to get rid of these people."
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