Australian Open 2021: Play halted, as fans forced to leave for COVID-19 lockdown

Play was suspended temporarily at the Australian Open on Friday, as fans were told to leave the Rod Laver Arena to comply with a new five-day lockdown in Melbourne.

Top seed Novak Djokovic was two sets to one ahead, but struggling with an injury against American Taylor Fritz, when play was halted at 11.30pm local time and fans were asked to leave.

Ordered after a new COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel, the five-day lockdown was due to start at midnight.

The news wasn't well received by those in attendance, particularly a vocal majority of Serbian fans, who were there to watch national hero Djokovic, and booed and chanted, as the umpire made the announcement.

After a short delay while fans made their way to the exits, play resumed.

Djokovic went on to win the match 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

For the next five days, play will continue at the tournament without crowds, as professional athletes are deemed "essential workers".