Ukrainian tennis ace shares WhatsApp exchange with Djokovic

The tennis great appeared to have offered to send money to the player, who has returned to Ukraine

Novak Djokovic offered financial aid to Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky, according to screenshots shared by the veteran showing purported WhatsApp messages from the former world number one.

Stakhovsky, who returned to his homeland following its invasion by Russia in order to join the military, shared the exchange on his Instagram page.

"Stako, how are you? Are you on the ground?" Djokovic asks in the messages, which which Stakhovsky accompanied with a photo of the pair meeting at the net to shake hands after a clay court showdown at the French Open in 2009.

"I'm thinking of you. I hope everything calms down soon," Djokovic adds. 

"Please tell me the best address where I can send help, both financial and otherwise."

Retired Stakhovsky, who once reached a career-high of 31 in the men's ATP rankings and won four titles, first replies with a love heart and a prayer hands emoji.

"Nole, thank you very much. I'm on the ground. Kiev is pretty quiet," he explains.

Djokovic has endured criticism from some after his Australian Open visa and vaccine row earlier this year as well as his court outbursts.

American world number 17 Reilly Opelka added to suggestions by several players that Djokovic is a staunch supporter of his fellow professionals by responded to the screenshots: "No surprise."

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Stakhovsky retired after losing his first match at the Grand Slam in Melbourne in January.

Now 36, he reportedly amassed almost $5.7 in career prize money despite never going beyond the third round of a major tournament in singles or doubles.

He is perhaps best known for beating tennis icon Roger Federer in the second round of Wimbledon 2013, when Stakhovsky was a rank outsider as the world number 116 at the time.

Stakhovsky played Djokovic four times between 2009 and 2015, failing to win a set against the 34-year-old considered by many to be the greatest player of all time.

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