Novak Djokovic's staggering call after Wimbledon's ban on Russians
Novak Djokovic has spoken out against Wimbledon's decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus, labelling the move "crazy."
The All England Club announced the shock decision on Wednesday, saying it was taking a stand in an attempt to "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible."
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"We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime," All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in the statement.
However the move has sparked worldwide condemnation, with men's World No.1 Djokovic among the many unhappy.
The Serbian star said he disagrees with war, but banning athletes was unfair.
"I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war," he said at the Serbia Open in Belgrade.
"I know how much emotional trauma it leaves.
"In Serbia we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans we have had many wars in recent history.
"However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy.
"The players, the tennis players, the athletes have nothing to do with it (war). When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good."
Djokovic's closest rival - Russian World No.2 Daniil Medvedev - will be one of the many players banned.
Medvedev beat Djokovic in the US Open final last year to deny the 20-time major winner a calendar year Grand Slam.
The ATP and WTA tours have also criticised Wimbledon's decision, as has tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
#Djokovic does not support the #Wimbledon decision. Full answer 👇🏻 pic.twitter.com/WP7MsUBwv4
— Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) April 20, 2022
Djokovic survives scare to beat Djere in Belgrade
Djokovic battled back from a set and a break down to beat Laslo Djere in his opening match of the ATP event in Belgrade on Wednesday, avoiding a third-consecutive defeat.
The World No.1 trailed 4-3 in the second set but won a dramatic encounter against his fellow Serb 2-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) in three hours and 21 minutes.
Djokovic is playing just his third tournament of the season after being deported from Australia before the Australian Open over his vaccination status.
He also missed the Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami Open last month, before a first-up loss in Monte Carlo last week.
After a surprise quarter-final exit to Jiri Vesely in Dubai in February, he returned at the Monte Carlo Masters but lost to eventual runner-up Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his first match.
Djokovic had to watch on as long-time rival Rafa Nadal won the Australian Open in his absence to clinch a record-breaking 21st major title, moving him one ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.
He will next face another compatriot - Miomir Kecmanovic, - in the quarter-finals after his 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Australian John Millman.
Kecmanovic faced little resistance from Millman, while Karen Khachanov was granted a walkover against Roman Safiullin.
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