Ethnic violence between groups of Serbian and Bosnian tennis fans reared its ugly head at the Aussie Open today again today.
The incident occurred as the fans sat outside in Garden Square watching the tight 4-set battle between Serb Novak Djokovic and American via Bosnia Amer Delic in the third round won by the defending champ. A thrown drink was the alledgedly the catalyst of the 20-person riot which was followed by punches and a tossed metal chair that hit a female bystander. Two men will be charged with "riotous behavior and discharging a missile." Two years ago, an violent incident involving 150 fans from both countries marred the Grand Slam.
Amer had posted a message on his website to his supporters earlier in the week asking for calm after disruptive Serbian fans appeared at his match against Frenchie Paul-Henri Mathieu. They had just watched countryman Janko Tipsarevic fall to Croat Marin Cilic before appearing at Amer's match.
A few of the ballers from the countries involved expressed their thoughts on the incident.
I can't do much. I'm on the court. I have to keep my focus on the tennis, because I need to win the match. As I said, authorities are there, chair umpires, referees, the people, security. If they think that they're overreacting or somebody is complaining about them, then it's different and they can do something about it.Jelena Jankovc:
Not really, because I was playing after [Nole]. I heard about it, you know, that there was some fighting or something between the fans. I think overall it's great that the fans come and support us. But I think the most important thing is that they should respect each other, the fans and our opponents. The crowd should be quite fair and just go out there and enjoy the match.
It's very sad. I think sport is a great thing to bring people together. No matter from where you come from, it's important that everyone be enjoying and happy and enjoy the tennis or sport at all. I'm very sad to see these things happening. Kind of every year here and there a little bit. I really hope in the future people can end this and appreciate the tennis and the hard work we put in and just enjoy it rather than have fights.Amer Delic:
Yeah, I just heard about that. I'm really sad to hear about that. As I said a couple days ago, there's absolutely no place for that here. This is a tennis match. As I'm sure you all saw at the end, I mean, Novak and I are friends. We're both competitors, obviously. In the end it was a fair match, and there was no reason for such things.
It's so unfortunate these incidents have to occur but it seems past resentments + alcohol = trouble.
Let's try to keep the focus on tennis over there.
UPDATE: Here's video of the clash courtesy of ESPN2 - what a shame:
(image via www.news.com.au)