A chorus of boos echoed around Rod Laver Arena before Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev addressed the crowd following the Australian Open final.
Djokovic secured an incredible ninth title at Melbourne Park — his 18th career grand slam crown — by thumping Medvedev in straight sets as he put on a masterclass in the Victorian capital.
Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka took to the stage during the post-match ceremony on Sunday night and wouldn’t have been expecting the backlash that erupted over some of her comments.
After congratulating the two athletes, Hrdlicka thanked several groups and individuals while also addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
Needless to say, a few of her remarks were not well received by the Melbourne crowd.
The first moment which spurred a negative reaction was Hrdlicka’s mention of the recent COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“It’s been a time of heartfelt challenge. It’s been a time of deep loss and extraordinary sacrifice for everyone,” Hrdlicka said.
“With vaccinations on the way, rolling out in many countries around the world, it’s now a time for optimism and hope for the future.”
That sparked a cacophony of boos from the crowd. Whether the stands were full of anti-vaxxers or spectators were simply venting their frustration at how long it’s taken the rollout to start in Australia, their response was impossible to miss.
Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith tweeted: “People booing vaccines at the #ausopen need to take a long hard look at their privilege. Disgraceful behaviour.”
The crowd erupted in another roar of boos after Hrdlicka thanked the Victorian Government for its support.
Premier Daniel Andrews has plenty of supporters in his home state, but there are also many who are unhappy with the strict lockdowns he’s imposed as Victoria fought to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“There are many other people to thank that enabled this great night to take place in the last couple of weeks,” Hrdlicka said.
“The top of that list is a Victorian Government, without you we could not have done this.”
Spectators repeatedly interrupted Hrdlicka, with the TA chair eventually losing her patience and coldly saying: “When you’re finished …”
Hrdlicka added: “You are a very opinionated group of people, but whether you’re at home or here tonight, we are really thankful that you’re here. We look forward to seeing you next year.”
There was plenty of criticism reserved for the crowd’s response.
Former Australian tennis star Rennae Stubbs tweeted: “These fans booing are disgraceful! Honestly!!! Grow up!”
Journalist Isabelle Lane posted: “Embarrassing scenes at this #AusOpen presentation. Tennis Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka booed by parts of crowd when mentioning the coronavirus vaccine rollout and thanking the Victorian government for the event. Hrdlicka notably failed to thank the people of Melbourne/Vic.”
Cricket reporter Danyal Rasool tweeted: “Booing the Victorian government, one of the few in the world that actually took the measures that made it possible for them to sit in the crowd to boo in the first place, is a next-level self-awareness fail.”
Djokovic is yet to taste defeat in a final on Rod Laver Arena and showed once again why he’s unstoppable on the hard courts of Melbourne Park, teaching his opponent a brutal lesson in the Russian’s second grand slam final defeat.
A wild, seesawing first set gave way to unmatched Djokovic dominance as the world No. 1 stormed towards a 7-5 6-2 6-2 victory, giving him his 18th major singles title — just two fewer than closest rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
During the second set, play was stopped mid-point as spectators started yelling as part of a protest, forcing the umpire to call let and have the point replayed.
Medvedev capitulated in the third set and lost his temper as Djokovic rolled over the top of him.
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