Novak Djokovic’s dad was filmed posing alongside pro-Putin supporters (Image: TWITTER/TODAYNEWS)
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Novak Djokovic will be “devastated” by the controversy surrounding his father, Srdjan Djokovic, after he posed for photos with pro-Putin Russian fans at the Australian Open, according to former British No 1 Sam Smith. Djokovic spoke with joy at having his parents back in Australia to see him play in the Melbourne Park major for the first time since 2008 earlier in the tournament.
He had hoped they would “bring me luck once again”, but his dad’s recent controversy would not have been part of the plan. Srdjan was seen on video posing with fans waving Russian flags emblazoned with Vladimir Putin ‘s face following his son’s win over Andrey Rublev.
The Australian Open has brought in strict policies banning flags in support of Russia as the war in Ukraine drags on. In the clip with Djokovic’s father in, numerous flags were waved on the steps of the Rod Laver Arena with several supporters seen wearing the ‘Z’ symbol – which has become known as a pro-war emblem.
Djokovic himself has shown that his father’s actions are a huge contrast to his own beliefs. The nine-time Australian Open champion sent a text message of support to Ukrainian tennis star Sergei Stakhovsky soon after the war started when he joined the resistance against the Russian invasion and pledged “financial help, any other help as well”.
Pro-war symbols were displayed by some Russian fans at the Australian Open this week (Image: GETTY)
And Smith, who was British No 1 between 1996 and 1999, believes Djokovic’s father has made his son’s life that bit tougher in his bid for a 10th Australian Open title. “I’ve just seen the footage, I’m absolutely appalled by it,” Smith told Today Extra .
“It just detracts from everything this tournament is trying to do and we’re not talking about the tennis and Novak must be devastated. It’s just another thing he’s got to deal with.
“I walked into Melbourne Park this morning thinking the world is very fractured at the moment, it’s not in a great place. You come to Melbourne Park and you just feel everything’s alright. In this little corner of the world, everything feels good and happy and right and I was just so appalled to see that footage.
“However it came about, maybe Novak’s father Srdjan wasn’t thinking, but he’s part of the Novak Djokovic team and you’ve got to be switched on every minute of your day and night because of the world that we live in now. People can take advantage of you and maybe that’s what happened… it was horrible.”
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