Novak Djokovic's father has landed in trouble after he was seen with tennis fans holding pro-Russia flags at the Australian Open 2023 on Thursday.
Several videos and pictures of Srdjan Djokovic posing with fans holding Russian and pro-Putin flags are doing the rounds on social media.
Djokovic Sr. was also seen at a pro-Putin rally outside the Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night after Novak's quarterfinal match against Russian Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic beat the world No. 5 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to set up a semi-final meeting with Tommy Paul.
But it was his father who made the headlines after the match.
After the match a group of fans unfurled Russian flags -- which are banned at Melbourne Park -- near the stadium and chanted pro-Russian and pro-Putin slogans.
Tennis Australia said four people "revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards". Police were called and they were ejected from Melbourne Park.
One of the videos also shows Srdjan posing with a man holding a Russian flag bearing President Putin's image.
It was captioned: "Novak Djokovic's father makes bold political statement."
Serbian tennis reporters confirmed it was Djokovic's father and the Melbourne Age newspaper reported he said in Serbian: "Long live Russia."
Russia, Belarus Flags banned at Grand Slams
Spectators are banned from having Russian or Belarusian flags at the Grand Slam after Ukraine's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, demanded action when they were seen among the crowd last week.
At the time, Russia's embassy in Australia hit back, calling it "another example of unacceptable politicisation of sports".
Myroshnychenko said on Twitter on Thursday that the latest incident was shameful.
"It's a full package. Among the Serbian flags, there is: a Russian flag, Putin, Z-symbol, so-called Donetsk People's Republic flag," he tweeted with a link to the video.
"It's such a disgrace... @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen."
Ukrainian tennis player Alex Dolgopolov also condemned the incident.
"Absolutely disgusting. Politics should be kept out of sports they said. These people have absolutely no business in being on tennis tournaments, including @DjokerNole father, if they openly praise a genocidal regime," Alex tweeted.
Tournament organiser Tennis Australia said on Thursday it would continue to work with security to enforce entry rules, without directly addressing the incident with Djokovic's father.
"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," it said.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)