In the post-match press conference following his 6-3 7-6 victory over Alexander Zverev at the Nitto ATP Finals, Novak Djokovic was about the German's domestic abuse case. And Djokovic gave a detailed - if somewhat cryptic - answer.
Alexander Zverev has been accused by ex-girlfriend Olga 'Olya' Sharypova of intense physical and mental abuse during the course of their relationship which ended in late 2019. Zverev has denied the allegations repeatedly in his pressers, but most other players on tour have largely stayed away from the topic.
Novak Djokovic, however, claimed that he was 'sad to hear what Zverev was going through', and that he didn't know the whole truth of what had really transpired.
"Well yes, I know who you are alluding to," Novak Djokovic replied when the topic of domestic abuse came up. "I mean I heard what happened. We don't know what happened truly."
"I have known Sascha (Zverev) a long time since he was very young and we have a great relationship," Djokovic added. "I have a lot of respect for him and his family. So I was sad to hear he's going through something like this. Again I don't know what happened. Obviously I'm not supporting any kind of violence. So we will have to wait and see."
ATP should have domestic abuse policy, says Novak Djokovic
During the course of the press conference, the World No. 1 expressed support for the introduction of a domestic violence policy in the ATP, like they have in other major sporting leagues like the NBA and NFL.
"Why not," Novak Djokovic said. "Probably it should be there in place. But I guess it wasn't developed and it wasn't there because we just did not have cases like this, I think, previously. I might be wrong - correct me if I am - but I mean in the history of the sport. But I have not heard that we had maybe top players involved in such instances. So maybe, in a way, it will inspire ATP to do something like that."
Novak Djokovic then went on to say that he hasn't spoken with Zverev about the abuse case, and that he hopes the German is able to focus completely on his tennis soon.
"I have not noticed that he has been treated differently in the locker room," claimed the World No. 1. "I mean at least in my case. As I said, I always had a very good relationship with him."
"I did not speak to him about it but I did tell him I'm here if he needs to talk," Djokovic added. "He's been handling it well by the looks of his results for the last month and a half or so. I sincerely wish that he overcomes this soon and that he can focus on his life and tennis career."
Apart from Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev - whose wife happens to share a personal relationship with Olga Sharypova - is the only player on the men's tour to have explicitly addressed the allegations against Zverev.
"Yeah for sure, this is a tough topic," Medvedev had said following his win over Novak Djokovic on Wednesday. "You know what I can say for sure is that I'm against abuse in any means. After that it's more a question to the ATP and Sascha of course, because that's a story about him and his ex-girlfriend. I can only say that I'm against abuse but I don't know the details."
The full extent of Sharypova's allegations against Zverev can be read on Raquet Magazine's website here.