OPINION: After the first three days of the 2020 Australian Open, the battle is just as big off as it is on the courts.
The battle for supreme supporters. Who can give their players the biggest boost….or at least make the most noise and have fun even if their player is losing.
Nearly every court, including the far-flung 15, through to court 22 on the other side of Melbourne Park are packed with fans, some are enjoying the tennis and a big group of them feel they must be a part of it.
So far the battle of the crowd has been won by the Greeks followed by the Croats….with Nick Kyrgios supporters third and the rest of Australia next with the Chilean's moving up the order into a close fifth.
While Auckland crowds are criticised at any sport for sitting on their hands and watching rather than showing emotion, here at the Aussie Open it can get a little raucous. Even Greek stud-muffin (it wasn't me that said that) Stefanos Tsitsipas has said he’d like his fans to settle down a little at times and "You do cross the line a little bit, but I still love you,” referring to his supporters after his first round win.
During the second round match featuring Greek woman Maria Sakari, the noise on court 8 was insane, part of the reason for this included some extremely passionate chanting, with some possible racial overtones against, well anyone else.
Victoria Police later confirmed a group of between 15 and 20 men (Greek supporters) were ejected for disruptive behaviour after they have received numerous warnings from the match referee, security and police from this court.
The Croatian Marin Cilic clash with Frenchman, Benoit Paire match was like a zoo, or possibly a WWE wrestling match and a zoo combined. The noise was unnerving with Croatian supporters going all out and nearly getting thrown out too.
It doesn't usually occur on Rod Laver Arena as the tickets are too expensive and security is very tight, but wandering the grounds of Melbourne Park the supporters can group together for bravado in numbers.
In the past at the Aussie Open, there were battles between Croatian and Serbian supporters, although some dubious local media outlets were seen to offer some encouragement to continue the dust-up off-site for some more vision.
Things were a little more ‘peaceful’ In the late 80's and into the 90’s as the Swedes sang, painted themselves silly and then painted the town blue and yellow with their singing and drinking later on, but they were just a bunch big happy Vikings. Sadly their players have moved on and there’s very little for the Nordic nation to support.
It all adds to the colour of the tournament, but as Tsitsipas has warned he doesn’t think tennis needs to be turned into football and leave politics out of it. "They should be a little more respectful to the opponents."
Watch for more on this as the tournament progresses and the battle lines get drawn on and off the courts.
Dave Worsley is a Newshub sports reporter, covering his 22nd Australian Open.