Victoria Azarenka was in no mood to discuss Novak Djokovic or the furore surrounding his father after her loss in the Australian Open semi-final on Thursday night. Azarenka was knocked out of the tournament in a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 loss to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
The 33-year-old enjoyed a stunning resurgence at Melbourne Park over the last few days, winding back the clock in scenes reminiscent of when she won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2013 and 2014. However the Belarusian star was left infuriated when talk during her post-match press conference turned to Djokovic and his dad.
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Srdjan Djokovic was spotted mingling with pro-Russia supporters on Wednesday night after his son's win over Andrey Rublev. Four spectators were later questioned by police, with one displaying a flag with Vladimir Putin's face and another wearing a shirt with the pro-war 'Z' symbol on it.
Everything going perfect on the court for Novak Djokovic.
Why would his dad try and unsettle that in any way?
Absolutely idiotic behaviour from Srdjan Djokovic. Poor Novak having to now handle this. pic.twitter.com/EbhC9gb3jg
— GAME TO LOVE (@GTLTennis) January 26, 2023
Azarenka, who was banned from playing at Wimbledon last year and unable to compete under her national flag at the Australian Open due to the fact she hails from Belarus (an ally of Russia), was asked about the situation on Thursday night. "There’s been a lot of scrutiny about a lot of the Russian and Belarusian players here," an Australian reporter asked her.
"I’m sure even if you weren’t looking at social, you would have seen there was an incident with Novak’s dad last night. Is it difficult for you when you go out there to put all those things out of your mind? Do you think there are other players who get impacted by it?"
Azarenka replied: "Other players get impacted by what exactly are you asking me? You‘re here talking about it right now, so obviously it’s a topic you want to continue to bring up and up and up again. I don‘t know what you want me to say."
The reporter responded: "Are you able to distance yourself completely? Does it concern you at all? Do you think about it? As a fellow player, do you think how difficult that might be for Novak?"
Azarenka then shot back: "I don‘t know what it has to do with Novak at all, to be fair, so...I‘ve spoken to actually a security guard today who was walking me to practice every day. I know him for years. I just asked him what was the accident [sic]. He explained to me.
"I don‘t know what you guys want us to do about it. Like talk about it? I don’t know what’s the goal here that it’s continuously brought up. These incidents that in my opinion have nothing to do with players, but somehow you keep dragging players into it.
"So what‘s the goal here? I think you should ask yourself that question, not me."
Victoria Azarenka snaps at reporter's question
The reporter continued: "To clarify on that. Does it frustrate you, particularly last night, for example, there was a clear sort of pro-Russian demonstration happening within the grounds of the tournament, that these people are coming and using the Australian Open as a platform for these kind of demonstrations. Does that frustrate you?"
Azarenka then got increasingly frustrated, hitting back: "Whatever the answer I‘m going to give it to you right now, it’s going to be turned whichever way you want to turn it to. So does it bother me? What bothers me is there’s real things that’s going on in the world. I don’t know. Are you a politician? Are you? Are you covering politics?
"I’m an athlete. You’re asking me about things that maybe somebody says are in my control, but I don’t believe that. I don’t know what you want me to answer. If it’s a provocative question, then you can spin the story however you want."
Azarenka had been bidding to become just the fourth player in tennis history to win a grand slam after becoming a mother. However her fairytale was ended by a red-hot Rybakena, who will now play Aryna Sabalenka in the final.
Fellow Belarusian athlete Sabalenka was too good for Magda Linette, winning 7-6 (7-1) 6-2. Sabalenka hasn't dropped a set in 10 matches unbeaten so far this summer.
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