The subject is delicate. But Novak Djokovic is experienced enough to know how to walk on eggshells when necessary. Friday, after his victory against Alexander Zverev (6-3, 7-6) which opened the doors to the semi-finals of the Masters, his press conference was, once again this week, deviated from the strict commentary of his performance on the court to focus on the case of his opponent of the day. The world number 1 was thus asked to speak out on the accusations of domestic violence which the German has been the subject of for a few weeks. Djokovic did not walk away, not without sincerity.
The Serb, of course, did not comment on the facts denounced by Zverev’s ex-companion, Olya Sharypova. But he spoke of his relationship with the great Sascha. Would they have cooled since these accusations were published in the media? “If he’s treated differently in the locker room, I haven’t noticed. At least, from my side, nothing has changed. We always got along very well“, he said.
I obviously do not support any form of violence, we must wait to see more clearly
Before detailing the origin of this relationship of trust. “I have known Sascha since he was very young. He’s a very nice guy. I have a lot of respect for him and his family. I’m the same age and from the same generation as his big brother Mischa, so I was sad when I heard he was going through something like this. (…) We spent time together this year during the Adria Tour, talking about the things of life. So I know him more personally now. And I sincerely wish him overcoming this soon, so that he can focus on his life and his career. “
Djokovic’s words are those of a man who supports a friend who is going through a difficult time. But that does not mean that the Serb would defend Zverev if the facts with which he is accused were proven. The world number 1 has been clear in this regard. “Again, I don’t know what happened. I do not support, of course, any form of violence. We must wait to see more clearly.“
For Djokovic, ATP should define a policy in this kind of case
And if the ATP considered that this kind of affair fell within the competence of the police and the judiciary, the Serb did not hold exactly the same speech. He believes that the body should be more proactive in the future. “Should ATP decide on a policy to deal with this sort of thing? Probably. I imagine it hasn’t been done so far because there haven’t been – correct me if I’m wrong – a case like this in the history of our sport. In any case, I haven’t heard of any examples of players of this caliber involved in similar stories. So maybe this case will prompt ATP to do something like that. “
Asked again on the subject, Zverev confirmed Djokovic’s comments on his relations with other players. “They have been good to me and that will not change. They know what’s going on. I have said all I have to say on this subject. It is very unfortunate that such false claims are distracting attention from the sport. But this is the world we live in“, he reiterated. Right in his boots, he assures him, he has not become an outcast. In the current vagueness around a possible legal action, he still benefits, in the locker room at least , of the presumption of innocence.