In a recent interview with Tribuna, Nikita Vlasov, the coach of Ukrainian tennis player Lesia Tsurenko, criticized Novak Djokovic.
The controversy unfolded at this year's Australian Open when Djokovic's father, Srdjan, was captured on video celebrating with a group of fans carrying pro-Russian flags and wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the 'Z' symbol, a known emblem in support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Soon after the video emerged, Srdjan Djokovic apologized and claimed it was a misunderstanding as Novak also did. As a result, he was then absent from his son's semifinal match.
According to Vlasov, Djokovic lacked courage in denouncing his father's actions during the Australian Open earlier this year and missed an opportunity to use his influential status to promote peace and condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"It was a stupid situation. This is my personal opinion. Djokovic's father said 'Glory to Russia' on camera and then claimed he was misunderstood. It's not even a human act."
"If you said so, take responsibility for your words. Djokovic also didn't have the courage to say frankly that he didn't support his father's behavior."
"At no point in his interviews did Novak directly condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, or call for the horror in our country to stop. Would it be a good time to use his status to put an end to all this, to call for peace? No, they support Russia. I was very surprised that this position was expressed so openly, so crudely. And on the occasion of such a competition."
It's important to mention, that contrary to Vlasov's claims, in response to the incident, Djokovic maintained that his father's actions were misinterpreted and emphasized that his family, having experienced a war themselves, would never endorse conflict. Djokovic did say that he was against the war after the incident when he stated:
"We are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war. We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war.”