Tennis star Novak Djokovic defeated No. 5 seed Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of Australia Open 2023 to extend his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 26 matches. The Serbian equalled Andre Agassi’s record for the longest run by a man there in the Open era, which dates to 1968. Meanwhile, Djokovic’s father, Srdan Djokovic got involved in a controversy. 

Srdan was filmed posing with a Russian flag that had Vladimir Putin’s face on it outside the Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night. The incident took place right after Novak Djokovic’s match against Andrey Rublev. In a video, doing the round of the internet, Djokovic’s father was seen posing alongside the flag with a man holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it. 

Senior Djokovic was also wearing a t-shirt bearing the notorious Z symbol, an emblem of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine used around the world. As he leaves, Srdan can also be heard saying to the man “zivejli Russiyani”, an apparent show of support for the Russian cause. Notably, “Zivejli” is a Serbocroat word meaning “cheers” while “Russiyani” refers to Russian citizens, and the phrase that is translated by the channel as “long live the Russians”.

Notably, a group of people was spotted at Melbourne Park with the Russian flag and chanting pro-Russian slogans. Meanwhile, Tennis Australia issued a statement condemning the incident. It also added that four people were thrown out of Melbourne Park after the incident. Tennis Australia further said that the players have once again been briefed about the laws regarding flags. 

“A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted. … 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,” Tennis Australian said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies.”