Having reached the semi-finals the four remaining Aussie Open challengers have a day off and won’t be appearing on court until Friday.
But while they will enjoy a day of rest, the Djokovic family is having to face a series of questions which have been highlighted by the press down under, who have captured pictures of Novak’s father, Srdjan Djokovic fraternising with pro-Russian-Putin supporters.
According to footage on a Russian supporting YouTube channel, last Wednesday, Djokovic senior was part of a pro-war protest at the Australian Open which gathered outside the Rod Laver Arena following Djokovic Junior’s comfortable three set quarter final defeat of Russian Andrey Rublev, holding Russian flags, one of which bore the face of Vladimir Putin, whilst chanting ‘Serbia, Russia.”
Srdjan Djokovic is seen standing with a man holding the Putin flag and wearing a T-shirt with the pro-war Z symbol on it. He also makes a comment to the man which is translated as “long live the Russians.”
Novak Djokovic himself has tried to avoid controversy since arriving in Australia to focus on his title efforts as he prepares to meet American Tommy Paul in the semi-final on Friday. And to date, that welcome has in general, been warm and wholehearted.
Whether knowingly or not, on Wednesday he could be seen signing something for a man who had earlier been wearing that ‘Z’ T-shirt – the logo of the Russian invaders of Ukraine.
Four people were detained and questioned by police and evicted from Melbourne Park with Tennis Australia explaining they had been threatening security guards and had shown “inappropriate flags and symbols” , contrary to tournament policy which bans them from the venue.
Later another statement revealed that one of the one of the quartet was “now assisting police with unrelated matters” and added that players and their teams have been reminded of the previously mentioned tournament policy.
Russian and Belarusian flags were banned for the remainder of the event last week after a flag was displayed at a match between Russian and Ukrainian players.
The statement read: “Players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to disrupt. We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies.”
So far there has been no public comment from the Djokovic entourage.
Entirely separately on a pure tennis level, there has been speculation as to how serious the hamstring injury he has been carrying, is.
That isn’t a recent question but he attempted to quash it after his defeat of Alex de Minaur who did question it in a roundabout way.
Speaking at the post match press conference, Djokovic said to the Serbian media: I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt.
“Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now. Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media, depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won’t.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues; narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”
Then there is the episode of the note on a water bottle and his ‘magic potion’!
Earlier in the tournament he was seen receiving a water bottle with what appeared to be, a note attached to it!
Had he received coaching? Coaching is allowed, but only when the player is on the same side of the court as his coach. If not, only hand signals can be used.
And last November his team were spotted mixing a ‘drink’ courtside during the Paris Masters which was then delivered to him during the game by a ball-girl. During the mixing, a member of his team tried to block any view of the excercise.
Despite everything, Novak Djokovic looks to be marching towards a record setting 10th Australian Open!