|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates:16-29 January|
|Coverage: Commentary every day from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra ‘Tennis Breakfast’ live from Melbourne, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the BBC Sport website & app|
Srdjan Djokovic watched his son Novak’s Australian Open semi-final from home to avoid causing “disruption” after being pictured with supporters of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The 62-year-old was photographed with a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it after his son’s win over Russian Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.
Nine-time champion Novak beat American Tommy Paul 7-5 6-1 6-2 on Friday.
“I am here to support my son only,” Srdjan said in a statement.
The images of Srdjan also featured a man wearing a T-shirt printed with the pro-war Z symbol following Djokovic’s quarter-final victory.
Another man was pictured in the stands wearing a similar T-shirt on Wednesday. He also attended Friday’s match wearing a different shirt.
Russian and Belarusian flags and symbols have been banned at Melbourne Park since a Russian flag was displayed during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova on the opening day.
Srdjan said: “I was outside with Novak’s fans as I have done after all of my son’s matches to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them. I had no intention of being caught up in this.
“My family has lived through the horror of war, and we wish only for peace.
“So there is no disruption to [the] semi-final for my son or for the other player, I have chosen to watch from home.
“I wish for a great match and I will be cheering for my son, as always.”
Before Srdjan confirmed he would not be attending the semi-final, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reiterated the country’s stance on pro-Russian protests.
“I will make this point, that Australia stands with the people of Ukraine. That is Australia’s position and Australia is unequivocal in our support for the rule of international law,” Albanese said at a news conference on Friday.
“We do not want to see any support given to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Albanese did not respond directly to a question about whether Srdjan should be deported.
Tennis Australia said in a statement it “stands with the call for peace and an end to war and violent conflict in Ukraine”.
It added: “Throughout the event we’ve spoken with players and their teams about the importance of not engaging in any activity that causes distress or disruption.
“We will continue to strive for the safety of fans at the event and reiterate our position banning flags from Belarus and Russia.”
Ukraine’s Kostyuk upset by seeing Russia flags
Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk has been one of the most vocal in speaking out about the war and she said seeing Russian flags being waved by supporters of Putin at Melbourne Park “hurts a lot”.
“I don’t understand how this can be possible,” added the 20-year-old, who was beaten in the women’s doubles semi-finals on Friday.
Kostyuk was born in Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which has been a focal point of Russian attacks since the country invaded its neighbour in February 2022.
The world number 61 has regularly highlighted the devastating impact on Ukrainians caused by Russia’s actions.
“It hurts a lot because there were specific rules; you’re not allowed to bring in the flags,” said Kostyuk, who also reached the third round of the singles.
“It really hurts that they were there for quite some time. These kind of things should not be seen. It’s very upsetting.”
Kostyuk also wants the ban imposed by Wimbledon last year on Russian and Belarusian players to remain in place this year.
The All England Club has yet to announce a decision for the Championships, which begin on 3 July.
Asked if Russian and Belarusian players should be stopped from competing again, she said: “I think yes. Because I cannot imagine if someone Russian or Belarusian wins the tournament and then royal family has to hold the trophies with them.
“I hardly imagine this. This is one of the big reasons they actually banned them. So I think yes.”