A protester holding an ‘abolish refugee detention’ sign has dramatically thrown themselves three metres onto the Australian Open court during the men’s final.
Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Russian world No.2 Daniil Medvedev’s blockbuster match was brought to a halt on Sunday night after the demonstrator jumped onto Rod Laver Arena’s court from the stands.
Outraged fans could be heard booing as the protester stumbled onto the court clutching a fabric banner reading ‘Abolish Refugee Detention’ before being quickly seized by several guards.
The crowd erupted in cheers authorities dragged the trespasser off the arena, with one audience member screaming ‘get off the stage!’.
Gobsmacked tennis fans could be seen staring in shock as person earlier leaped over the front row railing, waving the sign overhead.
They only managed to make a short dash towards the corner of the court before being tackled by authorities.
A protester has dramatically thrown himself three metres onto the Australian Open court during the men’s final
The demonstrator was quickly seized by security guards before being dragged out of the stadium
Nadal’s fight for a 21st grand slam title is off to a shaky start after Medvedev took the first round 6-2 and the second after a 6-7 tie break.
The Spaniard bidding for the record number of majors that most thought world No. 1 Novak Djokovic would be eyeing off before his dramatic deportation from Australia on the eve of the season’s first slam.
After two desperate court battles and a fortnight-long saga that drew worldwide attention, Djokovic’s departure for not having the necessary visa to enter the country opened the door for Nadal.
Djojovic spend several nights in a refugee detention centre in Melbourne, alongside dozens of men who have been there for up to eight years while they seek asylum – bringing the world’s attention to their cause.
Campaigners tried to take advantage of the newfound interest in their cause, but feared that when Djokovic was deported, the world’s attention would also be turned away.
After playing just two matches between June and January because of a crippling foot injury aggravated during his devastating French Open finals loss last year to Djokovic, not even the Spaniard dreamed of being in this position.
‘We can create histories but the real truth is that two months ago we didn’t know if we will be able to be back on tour at all,’ Nadal said after his epic five-set quarter-final victory over Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday.
Police officers and several guards grabbed the demonstrator, who was holding a sign reading ‘abolish refugee detention’
Little wonder then, though not surprising, that as he prepares for Medvedev, having initially been slated for a potential semi-final with Djokovic, that Nadal isn’t nearly as obsessed with moving one clear of the Serb and fellow tennis titan Roger Federer with a 21st grand slam.
Publicly at least, the 35-year-old former world No.1 said he’s merely still playing for the joy of competing in such an extraordinary golden era.
Nadal insisted it’s an honour to feature in world sport’s most dominate triumvirate come what may.
‘I just feel happy to be part of this amazing era of tennis, sharing all these things with another two players,’ he said.
‘That’s it. In some ways it doesn’t matter if somebody achieve one more or one less (grand slam), no?
Nadal (pictured) has taken on Russian world No.2 Daniil Medvedev on Sunday bidding for a record 21 grand slam win
Medvedev (pictured) is striving to become the first man to capture his second career major in successive slams
‘Everyone, we did amazing things and things that will be very difficult to equal.’
More important to Nadal, he said, is winning a second Australian Open crown, after losing four finals since his only triumph in 2009.
That in itself would elevate Nadal in the history books alongside Djokovic, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson as the only man to win all four grand slam events at least twice.
‘Of course, if just a few people did this during the whole history of this sport it’s because it’s something very difficult to make it,’ said Nadal, who also had to overcome a bout of COVID-19 close to Christmas to make it to Melbourne.
‘Yeah, I’m happy that I going to have a chance. But for me, at the end, it’s about, more than all these statistics.