More details have emerged as to why rowdy Australian Open fans interrupted the official post-match presentation by booing tennis chiefs.
Tennis Australia executive Jayne Hrdlicka faced a tough crowd when she took to the podium following the men’s final at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night to commend the hundreds of players who battled it out in the Melbourne grand slam over the last fortnight.
She was forced to pause her speech several times after being drowned out by the vocal crowd who have faced challenging times in the last 12 months during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Hrdlicka sparked controversy early on in her address by mentioning the coronavirus vaccine rollout, which began in Australia on Monday.
Her comments were met with a few boos from a small section of the crowd which were eventually drowned out by cheers and applause.
The boos became even louder a minute later as Ms Hrdlicka began thanking everyone who worked tirelessly making the delayed tournament possible.
Among the first to be thanked was the Victorian government, which has come under heavy fire for three lockdowns in the last 12 months.
Tennis Australia executive Jayne Hrdlicka (pictured) was booed during her speech after mentioning the advent of the Covid-19 vaccine and the Victorian Government
‘The top of that list is the Victorian government, without you, we could not have done this,’ Ms Hrdlicka said as loud boos erupted.
Tennis fans missed five days of live action during the tournament after Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews imposed a snap lockdown across the state due to a virus outbreak at quarantine hotel the Holiday Inn.
Players competed in empty arenas last week before limited crowds were given the green light to return to Melbourne Park for the the final four days from last Thursday.
The latest confinement came just three months after Melburnians spent much of the second half of 2020 in a 112-day lockdown in the wake of the state’s horror second wave of the virus.
Ms Hrdlicka patiently waited for the crowd to settle down as she tried to press on.
‘When you’re finished,’ she said.
She ended her speech shortly afterwards with a thinly-veiled swipe at the crowd.
‘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,’ Ms Hrdlicka said.
Jayne Hrdlicka was addressing the rowdy crowd after Novak Djokovic (pictured) beat Daniil Medvedev to secure his ninth Australian Open title
The crowd has sparked worldwide condemnation from commentators outraged by the poor display of etiquette.
‘These fans booing are disgraceful! Honestly!!! Grow up!’ retired Australia tennis player Rennae Stubbs tweeted.
But federal Senator Matt Canavan didn’t think too much into it.
‘I’ve been at sporting events and it’s sort of an Australian tradition to boo politicians and as you say, politics and once a few people started, others join in and that is mob behaviour,’ he told the Today show on Monday.
‘So I don’t think we take too much away from that. People are just having a bit of fun.’
The large section of the crowd responsible for marring the award ceremony were slammed online by commentators from around the world
But many commentators and journalists were unimpressed.
British Journalist James Chau said the behaviour was ‘disheartening — and frankly, ridiculous’ while sports broadcaster Shane McInnes called it ’embarrassing’.
‘And so ends the 2021 Australian Open, with the crowd booing vaccines as Djokovic raises the trophy. It was a weird-ass five weeks in Australia, tennis,’ said New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg.
Tennis writer Stuart Fraser described those responsible for marring the award ceremony as ‘morons’.
The uncomfortable trophy presentation came after Novak Djokovic outclassed Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to claim his ninth Australian Open win.
Controversy plagued the event before it even began, with some accusing Australian artist Gordi of singing ‘the worst national anthem ever’.
The backlash quickly followed on Twitter over Gordi’s performance, which included her accidentally singing the outdated lyrics of ‘young and free’.
‘The worst Australian anthem ever. Where’s the passion?,’ one person said.
‘Are there no singers in Australia? Why such ridiculous and disappointing delivery of the Australian anthem at a big event,’ another quipped.
Tennis Australia executive Jayne Hrdlicka (pictured) was interrupted by unruly fans several times during her address at the post-match presentation
Gordi’s performance was ridiculed on social media, with one calling it ‘disappointing’ and others ‘the worst Australian anthem ever’
A night of controversy: Before the match began, Australian singer Gordi was blasted for singing ‘young and free’ during a strange rendition of the national anthem
Gordi, whose name is Sophie Payten, recently took a break from her musical career to work in Australia on the Covid-19 frontline as a medical doctor.
Before her controversial performance, she revealed it would be the first time she had ever sung the national anthem at a major event.
‘Last time I sang the national anthem in front of a crowd it was to perhaps 30 people in Canowindra’s Morris Park when I was 11,’ she wrote online.
‘In a small step up I will be performing the anthem at the Australian Open men’s and women’s final this weekend. Hazaar.’
The lyrics of Advance Australia Fair were recently amended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, changing from ‘for we are young and free’ to ‘for we are one and free’.
The national anthem followed on from a performance of ‘Welcome to the Rock’ from the cast of the musical Come From Away.
The musical tells the true story of thousands of stranded passengers who were welcomed in a small town in Canada, but viewers were baffled by the odd choice of musical performance before a tennis match.
‘Welcome to the weirdest closing ceremony/show ever,’ one person wrote on Twitter.
Another said: ‘I’m all for supporting the arts, but the Come From Away performance was bloody jarring ahead of the Australian Open’.
Sunday’s finals showdown was also marred by two women being ejected from the venue by security after interrupting play.
One of the women was wearing a t-shirt which said ‘free them all’ on the front and ‘end systemic racism’ on the back.
Novak Djokovic versus Daniil Medvedev: How it unfolded
By Mike Dickson for Mailonline
Novak Djokovic ascended to Cloud Nine at Melbourne Park after reeling off yet another title.
The 33-year-old Serb moved to within two Grand Slam triumphs of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the place where he simply cannot lose.
This time he saw off the potentially dangerous challenge of Daniil Medvedev with a laser-focused performance that resulted in a 7-5 6-2 6-2 that took just one hour and 53 minutes.
A beaming Novak Djokovic grabs hold of the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after his ninth Australian Open triumph
Medvedev smiles as Djokovic pays tribute to his efforts following Sunday’s final – the pair first hit together when the Russian was ranked No 500 in the world
The winning moment for Djokovic as he secured a dominant victory over Medvedev in just one hour and 53 minutes
The Serbian celebrates with a couple of fist pumps and then dropped to the court as he celebrated his 18th Slam success
Medvedev’s racket bit the dust late in the second set as he hurled it to the ground in frustration after losing another point
The Russian world no 4 really had no solution to combat the quality and intensity of Djokovic’s game during a one-sided final
It saw him snap the 6′ 6′ Russian’s 20-match winning streak to win a ninth title, 13 years after claiming his first.
As the great champions move deeper into their thirties, the younger generation still struggle for a breakthrough. Medvedev was out-fought and out-thought, his fate finally sealed by an athletic overhead flick from the Serb.
Djokovic got off to a dominant start in a first set that rattled along surprisingly quickly, racing to 3-0 by employing an aggressive strategy in which he seemed determined to avoid getting dragged into long rallies.
Medvedev, thinking on his feet, adjusted to the tactic to fire back quickly, but there were always signs that the champion’s greater experience under pressure was going to tell.
A series of quickfire games saw Medvedev get rushed into being broken at 5-6 when he dumped a forehand in the net after saving two set points.
Djokovic fans in the crowd celebrate him taking the first set 7-5 in what was the ideal start to his latest major final
Medvedev stretches to make a return during the second set as Djokovic gave him a stern examination of his game
Djokovic stretches to play a graceful backhand during the opening set in the familiar surroundings of the Rod Laver Arena
The Russian’s groundstrokes do not score that highly on aesthetics but they are usually mighty effective, and he fired hopes of a recovery when breaking at the start of the second.
Yet we were to get a reminder of what still separates Djokovic from the chasing pack. Medvedev was immediately broken back while the Serb proceeded to dial down on his serving, looking rock solid against the uneven quality of his opponent’s returns.
That infected the rest of the Russian’s game, and before you knew it the champion was 5-2 up with Medvedev breaking his racket in frustration.
The Russian can have a volcanic temperament and soon he was constantly looking and gesticulating at his box – a warming sight from the other end of the court.
Covid-19 restrictions limited the crowd to around 50 per cent of the usual capacity – with around 7,500 permitted inside
Djokovic received the backing of a vocal Serbian support as he competed in the final for his latest Grand Slam success
Protesters interrupted the match during the second set and had to be escorted out of the arena by security guards
Djokovic’s returns, the best the sport has ever seen, sealed the second set and Medvedev was unravelling, his recent win at the ATP Finals in London counting for nothing.
Getting smothered by the relentless accuracy coming at him, the size of the occasion seemed to prevent the world number four trying something different. He has been known to revert to serve and volley but there was little sign of that.
A long, attritional game of chess had been promised but on the day Medvedev was not solid enough. With Djokovic’s stomach muscle problems of the past fortnight seemingly a distant memory it was he who was innovating as he sped towards the finish line.
The younger player briefly fired at 2-4 in the third but when he tried to get the crowd going Djokovic responded by reeling off three straight points to snuff out any chance of the revival.