Novak Djokovic backs Andy Murray promise to quit over birth

Novak Djokovic: Fellow feeling for expectant Andy. Picture: Getty
Novak Djokovic: Fellow feeling for expectant Andy. Picture: Getty
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Novak Djokovic believes Andy Murray would be right to fly home for the birth of his first child – even if it leaves the Australian Open without a final.

Djokovic and Murray, seeded one and two respectively, can only meet at the last stage in Melbourne but that remains a distinct possibility given three of the last five finals here have featured the pair.

Murray, however, has reiterated his intention to quit the tournament if his wife Kim goes into labour earlier than the expected due date in mid-February. That could, in theory, hand Djokovic the awkward honour of a free pass to the title, but the Serb understands Murray’s stance, having welcomed his own first child Stefan in October 2014.

“Of course I support and I agree with his decision. I would do the same,” Djokovic said. “I just became a father almost 15 months ago. I understand the position that he’s in. You have got to respect the decision of an individual, especially of somebody in his position.

“Of course, he’s one of the favourites to win this trophy. But he understands there are some other priorities in life. I’m glad he’s thinking that way. I wish his wife and him all the best.”

Djokovic is bidding to win his sixth Australian Open title and 11th grand slam overall but first he must negotiate a tricky opener against Hyeon Chung, a promising 19-year-old from South Korea. Chung stretched world No 13 Marin Cilic in Brisbane last week and gave French Open champion Stan Wawrinka a stern workout at the US Open last year.

“He’s one of the rising stars of the tennis world,” Djokovic said. “I haven’t seen him play too much, honestly. I know that he’s a tall fellow. He hits pretty solid from the back of the court.”