Former Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky (36), who defended his country due to the Russian invasion, has changed his opinion about Novak Djokovic, pointing out that only Roger Federer is genuinely apolitical. At the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Djokovic inquired about his condition and supported him in difficult times, but it seems that was the end of it.
However, Stakhovsky understands that Serbia has "different" views when it comes to the war in Ukraine, and this affects Djokovic as well. "I put out Novak's (message) with his permission because I know for Ukrainians, that would matter,” he said.
“Not all the Ukrainians would know Richard Gasquet or Lucas Pouille or Aljaz Bedene, or all the other guys, but they will see that he is supportive, that he understands that he condemns what's going on, that's the most important part - raise the spirit of the Ukrainians a bit."
“Although maybe they are already high with having finally a normal president who is willing to put himself where his words are and put his life on the line alongside all the other Ukrainians." “It was, of course, special to hear messages from players.
Novak is different because Novak lived through hell when he was young. He completely understands what our kids are going through right now in Ukraine, when they live in the metro stations. So, you know, it's something that I wish no one would have to go through”.
Stakhovsky , who was once ranked 31st in the world and won four ATP tournaments, came into the public eye after receiving permission to join his country's army.
Stakhovsky says nothing could have prepared him for war.
"I don't have the words to describe it,” he said back then.
"I would never imagine in my life that it would come to this, that I would be in my home city patrolling in a home-made vest, with a gun in my hands. I mean, five days before the war was in Kyiv, and a lot of people in American and British intelligence saying that Russia will invade, even then I was 100 per cent sure it's not going to happen.
I said there was no chance Russia openly would go into war, invade Ukraine - on what pretext?" "There is no pretext for it. So I don't have to go far. I mean, I'm still, you know, a lot of people are saying that they're waking up and hoping.
It was just a bad dream. But on day 16, (that) doesn't work anymore. First couple of days, (it's) surreal. You don't believe that it's actually happening. And the next thing you know, you get used to it and you're just trying to find a way of helping your country to actually survive."
The Ukrainian is also known for inflicting one of the heaviest defeats in his career on Roger Federer. Stakhovsky knocked Federer out of Wimbledon in 2013, a tournament where he was almost untouchable and for the famous Swiss, it was the earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament in 10 years.