A Wild Day Down Under

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

A skirmish between ethnic rivals, a half-naked streaker and an upset of Ana Ivanovic combined for an extraordinary Friday at the Australian Open.

A woman was injured and two men arrested for riotous behavior
when Serbian and Bosnian fans threw chairs outside Rod Laver Arena
following a match between defending champion Novak Djokovic and
Bosnian-born American Amer Delic.

Police said about 30 fans were ejected from Melbourne Park.

Djokovic, a 21-year-old Serb, won the spirited but good-natured
match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4). But as the players hugged at the net,
the first of dozens of chairs flew on the lawn near a big-screen TV
showing the match.

"There's absolutely no place for that. This is a tennis
match," said Delic, who moved from Bosnia at 14 and lives in
Jacksonville, Fla. "As I'm sure you all saw at the end, Novak and
I are friends. We're both competitors. In the end it was a fair
match, and there was no reason for such things."

Earlier Friday, a streaker dashed on court while Venus and
Serena Williams played doubles, prancing around before being
arrested.

The Williams sisters were en route to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over
Japan's Ayumi Morita and Germany's Martina Muller when the man,
wearing only a shirt, sprinted across the sidelines and made
several dance moves before heading toward an exit.

He was met by security guards, arrested and banned for the
event. He was not immediately identified.

Ivanovic's hopes of a return trip to the final fell apart in a
barrage of mistakes, losing to Alisa Kleybanova 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-2.
Ivanovic was pressured by the 19-year-old Russian's aggressive
style. The fifth-ranked Ivanovic lost her serve nine times and
finished with 50 unforced errors to only 23 winners.

Ivanovic, a 21-year-old Serb who has relatives in Melbourne, was
appalled by the violence.

"Sport is a great thing to bring people together," she said.
"I'm very sad to see these things happening."

The afternoon violence also overshadowed the night match between
second-ranked Roger Federer and former No. 1 Marat Safin. The Swiss
star won 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

"Terribly disappointing," Federer said of the fan conflict.
"Fans, 99.9 percent of the time, are always great. Then you have
some people who carry it outside of the tennis courts, lose their
minds. It's unfortunate."

Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood released a statement
saying police and security adequately handled the fan clash.

Victoria state police Inspector Chris Duthie said the fighting
was allegedly sparked when one group threw a tennis ball at
another. Security officers and police quelled the fight within
minutes.

Two years ago, police ejected 150 people after similar violent
clashes involving people of Balkan heritage at Melbourne Park.

Before finally asking reporters to change the subject, Djokovic
lamented that players can't control their fans. Delic had earlier
used his Web site to ask his backers, who were boisterous to the
point of disruption in the qualifier's first two matches, to tone
it down.

Djokovic next plays 2006 runner-up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus,
who beat No. 23 American Mardy Fish 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Baghdatis is
unseeded and ranked 97th after playing in only 12 tournaments last
year because of wrist and back injuries.

Andy Roddick had a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Fabrice Santoro, who
may have played his last Australian Open. Roddick produced 22 aces
against Santoro and next plays Tommy Robredo of Spain.

In other matches, No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina
extended his winning streak to seven matches, and No. 19 Marin
Cilic of Croatia ousted No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain.

On the women's side, Olympic silver medalist Dinara Safina beat
No. 25 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Fellow Russians Vera Zvonareva,
seeded seventh, and No. 10 Nadia Petrova are also in the fourth
round.

Federer looked dominant in pursuit of a 14th Grand Slam title
that would tie Pete Sampras' record. He'd have preferred to talk
more about Safin's game, likely the mercurial Russian's last at the
Australian Open.

Instead, the questions went back to the fan violence.

"It's not what's supposed to happen," Federer said. "I think
we set an example as players, and the fans should follow. This
tournament works so hard all year long to make up a good event. I
call it the 'Happy Slam.' Then you come here and you see these
scenes."


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