Flags and Wallies: Melbourne Park fans anger players at Australian Open | Australian Open 2023

Australian Open spectators were in the spotlight on Thursday after separate incidents sparked anger among players on the Melbourne Park court.

During his second-round match against Frenchman Enzo Couacaud at the Rod Laver Arena, Novak Djokovic complained to the referee after appearing to be barracked by a supporter, one of many dressed in a Where’s Wally? costume.

“Can we get this guy out?” he asked the referee during the fourth set. “Do you know who it is. The guy is completely drunk. From the first point, he provoked. He’s not here to watch tennis. He just wants to get inside my head.

“You’ve heard it at least 10 times. I’ve heard it 50 times. Why don’t you call the security guard and get him out of the stadium? Spectators were then escorted out of the arena.

The nine-time champion went 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0, but a hamstring injury continues to be a concern. “It’s not good at all. I will take it day by day,” he said. “It was better the last game, the feeling, than tonight. Hopefully I can recover and be ready for a tough next game.

Two spectators hold a Ukrainian flag next to Russia’s Andrey Rublev during his second round match against Emil Ruusuvuori. Photography: Fazry Ismail/EPA

Earlier in the day, Russian Andrey Rublev also complained to the referee about the spectators during his draw against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori. Two men at the Kia Arena could be seen waving a Ukrainian flag in the direction of the No.5 seed.

“The flag, for me, it’s fine,” Rublev told the referee at the start of the second set in their 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3 victory. “But they say bad words to me.”

After the game, Rublev said: “It wasn’t about the flag. I told the referee right away, it’s not about the flag, they can put any flag they want. I completely understand the situation. Rather, they started saying bad words and bad things to me.

Last February, Rublev wrote a “no war please” message on a court camera after beating Hubert Hurkacz at the Dubai Duty Free Championships. Russian flags were banned from Melbourne Park on Tuesday after fans waving one in the crowd drew heavy criticism from Ukraine’s ambassador.

Source : BBN NEWS

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