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.
As for the final, an emotional Novak Djokovic resumed his reign over Melbourne Park by winning a record-extending 10th Australian Open title on Sunday and crushing the Grand Slam dream of Greek trailblazer Stefanos Tsitsipas in a one-sided final.
In a rematch of the 2021 French Open decider, Djokovic swept to a 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) victory at Rod Laver Arena to reclaim the world number one ranking and again deny Tsitsipas a maiden major crown.
Djokovic’s record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam triumph, matching Rafa Nadal’s haul, was the ultimate redemption a year on from his sensational deportation from Australia on the eve of the Grand Slam due to his lack of COVID-19 vaccination.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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