Novak Djokovic’s father has decided to stay out of the 21-time Grand Slam champion’s semi-final after being embroiled in an altercation involving spectators bringing banned Russian flags into Melbourne Park, Tennis Australia said on Friday.

In an emailed statement to reporters some two and a half hours before Djokovic was due to face Tommy Paul for a spot in the men’s singles final, tournament organizers said Srdjan Djokovic «has issued a statement confirming that he will not attend » to the match. .

“Throughout the event, we have spoken to players and their teams about the importance of not engaging in any activity that causes distress or disruption,” Tennis Australia said.

“We will continue to strive for the safety of the fans at the event and reiterate our position to ban the flags of Belarus and Russia,” the group added. «Tennis Australia supports the call for peace and an end to war and violent conflict in Ukraine.»

After young Djokovic’s quarterfinal victory over Russian player Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, Srdjan Djokovic was filmed standing with a group of people waving Russian flags, at least one with a picture of Vladimir Putin, outside Rod Laver Arena. .

Four people were ejected from the tournament for the flags and for threatening security guards that night, police and Tennis Australia said.

On January 17, the second day of the Australian Open, the Russian and Belarusian flags were banned from Melbourne Park after more than one was brought to the stands by spectators the previous day.

The Australian Open bans the Russian and Belarusian flags in the crowds.
A supporter waves a Russian flag during the men’s singles match between the first day of the Australian Open in Melbourne. William West / AFP – Getty Images

The flags can normally be displayed during matches at Melbourne Park. But Tennis Australia reversed that policy for the two countries involved in the invasion of Ukraine that began nearly a year ago, saying the flags were causing problems.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus were banned last year from competing in several sporting events, including the men’s soccer World Cup and Wimbledon, the Billie Jean King Cup and tennis Davis Cup, because of the war in Ukraine. Russia invaded, with the help of Belarus, in February.

Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to play at the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open, but as «neutral» athletes, so their nationalities are not recognized on any official calendar or in the event results and the flags of their countries are not displayed. in television graphics.