A nice story for Amer Delic that will likely be marred with controversy. Amer, a lucky loser, came back from two sets down to beat PHM, 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 9-7, to advance to the third round. Good on him.
But his win was somewhat tainted by the rowdy Bosnian crowd that was there to cheer him:
Delic, representing the United States, said he realized he was the middleman in what he called “a circus” but had no control over the spectators, whose noise disturbed the last two sets and affected both players’ concentration.
“I couldn’t control any of that, though I was trying to,” said Delic, who moved to America with his parents when he was 14. “I felt bad for Paul and I apologized to him right after.”
The 26-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, rallied from two sets down to beat No. 28 Mathieu 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 9-7 and advance to the third round.
Mathieu complained that the fans were like noisy soccer fans and were disrespectful, echoing complaints that arose after Delic’s first-round match against fellow American Taylor Dent. Dent’s father Phil, a former Australian player, charged that the Bosnian fans had heckled and taunted his son but Delic said they had just been supporting him.
On Wednesday, however, fans focused less on the match and more on each other, swapping slurs that Delic refused to translate. It was reported the Serbian fans entered Court 13, where Delic was playing, after a Serbian player had finished a match on a nearby court.
The tensions and enmity of the Balkan conflict have been transplanted to Australia along with the Bosnians, Serbians and Croatians who have migrated here, and they are among the most vocal fans at sporting events.
Things turned ugly at the 2007 Australian Open, when fighting broke out between Croatian and Serbian fans at Melbourne Park and more than 150 people were removed from the grounds after attacking their rivals with fists, sticks, bottles and flagpoles.
Delic realizes the high potential for disaster between fans at his next match, in which he faces defending champion Novak Djokovic—a Serbian.
“I just hope the next match with Novak doesn’t turn into a World War III,” he said. “I’m going to try to tell my fans that we don’t need to be embarrassing ourselves in front of the world. I’m hoping Novak says something to Serbian fans, also. Leave the politics aside. It’s not my fault and it’s not Novak’s fault. We’re out here playing tennis and we need to keep it that way.”
Delic said he keeps in touch with his Australian-based fans through his Web site and that he would also talk to leaders of the Bosnian community in Melbourne.
“Obviously I like those fans, they’re getting me through these matches but I think today was bad,” he said.
During today's coverage there was repeated mention of heightened security being placed around the grounds to control crowd behavior. It sounds like they were particularly concerned over the Cilic/Tipsy match (Cilic won BTW). This was an issue last week in Sydney too during the Nole/Mario match.
I wish the fans understood that the "cheering" distracts your own player too. At Indian Wells (I feel like that's becoming very "One time, at band camp") the Serbian fans were vocal and actually weren't horrible. But they were clearly annoying and embarassing Ana and Nole. Ana actually apologized to the crowd for their behavior in her speech and Nole gave Fish a point because the crowd cheered during his serve and he glared at them to get them to shut up.
Hopefully the fans will take a cue from the players and remember that you're there to cheer FOR your guy, not AGAINST anyone else.
And also, it's tennis, not soccer. In case it wasn't obvious.