Novak Djokovic said it “hurts him and me” after they decided that his father would not be courtside to see him win the Australian Open on Sunday, following a controversy over a Russian flag.
Srdjan Djokovic was absent from the Serbian’s box for his final against Stefanos Tsitsipas at Rod Laver Arena, where Djokovic won a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title.
A seat next to Djokovic’s mother, usually occupied by Srdjan, was empty.
“We both agreed that it would probably be better that he’s not there,” Djokovic said after winning a 10th Australian Open title.
“That hurts him and me a lot because these are special, unique moments that who knows if they are repeated again.
“It was not easy for him. I saw him after the match and he was not feeling his best, let’s say. He was happy to hug me, but I could see he was a bit sad.”
“In the end we have a happy ending,” the 35-year-old Djokovic added.
Srdjan also decided to miss the semi-finals after he faced calls, led by Ukraine, to be banned from the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park.
A video posted to a pro-Russian YouTube account on Thursday showed him posing with a man holding a Russian flag with President Vladimir Putin’s face on it.
The video was captioned: “Novak Djokovic’s father makes bold political statement.”
Djokovic subsequently defended his father, saying there had been a “misinterpretation” of the images and no harm was meant.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, had called for Srdjan Djokovic to be stripped of his stadium pass.
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