Australian Open organisers won’t tolerate any booing of Novak Djokovic and his fellow players at this year’s season-opening Grand Slam as anyone who tries to disrupt the tournament will get kicked out of Melbourne Park.
Following his controversial two weeks in Australia last year that ended up with him being deported after his visa was withdrawn over fears he could stoke anti-vaccination sentiment country, Djokovic made a return this year as his visa ban was overturn.
The 21-time Grand Slam winner competed in the Adelaide International 1 last week and he received a good reception from fans at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre and the rest of South Australia.
There are fears that he could be in for a different welcome at Melbourne Park at next week’s Australian Open, but long-time tournament director Craig Tiley has a warning for those who want to boo Djokovic and co over the next fortnight.
“If they disrupt the enjoyment of anyone else – boom, they are out,” he said during an interview with the Herald Sun. “We don’t want them on site. They can stay away or we will kick them out.”
He added: “The one thing that I always liked about Melbourne is there is a great appreciation of excellence and for sport, I think more than anywhere in Australia.
“I have an expectation that people will appreciate that.”
Tiley, though, believes fans in Australia “are among the most educated in the world” so there is unlikely to be any problems.
“We have spoken a fair bit over the past week and he really enjoyed his experience in South Australia,” he said.”Our sporting fans are among the most educated in the world. They appreciate greatness. I’m pretty confident that the fans of Melbourne, similar to the experience that he had in Adelaide, will be just as good.”
Three time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray was also asked about booing after he competed in the Kooyang Classic in Melbourne and he admits he is not impressed by heckling.
“I don’t like seeing players get booed, it’s not a nice feeling when that happens,” the former world No 1 said.
“Novak got a lot of support in Adelaide, I’m sure it will be the same in Melbourne.”
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