Up to 20 Greek supporters have been ejected from the Australian Open for disruptive behaviour on Wednesday.
The fans were supporting the country’s No. 1 women’s player Maria Sakkari in a late afternoon match on Court 8 against Japanese Nao Hibino.
On Monday Greece’s top men’s player Stefanos Tsitsipas had welcomed the positive support but said Greek fans needed to be more respectful of the opposition and stop acting like football fans.
He said the active supporters “crossed the line” at times.
“They can do what they’re doing, but probably with more respect,” he said.
Victoria Police said in a statement the fans failed to follow the directions from officials and the chair umpire.
“About 6.05pm this evening a group of 15-20 males were evicted from the tennis for disruptive behaviour,” the statement read
“The group had received numerous warnings during a match on Court 8 from a match referee, security and police.
“After the match the group were asked to leave and did so peacefully.”
The Herald Sun reported claims from a member of the group evicted by police, who said the group was simply chanting and cheering and had been ushered out for no reason.
He said the group was kicked out in a “racist approach” to target Greek supporters.
“My eyes just cannot believe what I’m seeing,” Melburnian Greek fan Armani Nikkas reportedly said.
“Today we were supporting our country, the Greeks, and we were chanting and people kicked us out for no reason.
“I feel like it’s a racist approach.
Greek fans on day three of the Australian Open.Source:Getty Images
“After the game, we won, and then we celebrated how we do, but people think it’s taking it too far.
“We’re just celebrating, supporting our people.”
Sakkari, who won the match in straight sets, said she felt the support had been positive and that she would miss the fans if they were banned from attending her future matches.
“It is going to be different playing here without them (if banned) for sure,” Sakkari said.
“I really like it and it makes me play even better and get more pumped; that’s why it’s one of my preferred places to play.
“So I really hope that it’s not going to happen.”
Sakkari felt the fans during her match on Wednesday had been more than fair. “They respected the opponent at the maximum. They were not disrespectful, they had stopped when they had to stop. They were not say yelling on her double faults or mistakes,” she said.
“The only thing that they were yelling was ‘break, break, break’ but even Australians do it, Israelis do it, everyone does it.
“I think they were great.
“They were very respectful to the opponent, they stopped when they had to stop.
“They were not disrespectful. They were supporting me in a really nice way — I loved it.
“That’s my favourite atmosphere to play with, so I’m really glad that I played with them by my side.”
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