Tennis: German Alexander Zverev overcomes 'Free Palenstine' protest to reach Australian Open quarter-finals

German Alexander Zverev says he was surprised two spectators had to step in and drag away a protestor who disrupted his Australian Open fourth-round match with Cam Norrie on Margaret Court Arena.

Zverev's match came to a brief halt in the third set, when an individual wearing a mask threw 'Free Palestine' leaflets on the court from the stands, before being dragged away. Ballkids then cleared up the court and play resumed.

"That was a little bit surprising, because the security here, I mean, onsite where the players' area is, is extremely strict," said Zverev, who went on to close out a 7-5 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6(3) win.

Protestor disrupts the Australian Open clash between Zverev and Norrie.
Protestor disrupts the Australian Open clash between Zverev and Norrie. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Even today, I played obviously five sets, four hours, some minutes. I went to the locker room and the gym area is right next to the locker room.

"They wouldn't let me into the gym, because I forgot my credential in the locker room.

"What are you doing? You're protecting players from players.

"That's not really the whole point. Something like this happens and it takes 3-4 minutes for somebody to show up."

Tennis Australia says venue security was deployed to detain the individual as soon as the behaviour was identified and reported. The protestor was subsequently evicted.

"Two patrons were active in notifying security and stopping the protestor, and we appreciate their actions," said Tennis Australia, adding it would not tolerate behaviour that seeks to disrupt the tournament.

Zverev says security officials should have acted first and not fans.

"There's obviously screens and TVs everywhere in front of all the security guys," he said. "If you've seen somebody play for four hours, it's okay to go stretching in the gym, even if you forgot your credential.

"That's not sounding arrogant. I understand they're all doing their job, but I think, when something like this happens, it shouldn't be another fan dragging the other person out.

"It should be the security guys that should be there quite quickly. It shouldn't take them 3-4 minutes."