Alexander Zverev said he was surprised by how long it took security staff to respond to a pro-Palestine incident at Melbourne Park and highlighted that spectators should not be the ones intervening when something happens on the court.
During the third set of Zverev’s Australian Open round-of-16 against Cameron Norrie, a pro-Palestine protestor wearing a face mask threw sheets of paper onto the Margaret Court Arena. On paper, some of the messages that were written read “Free Palestine” and “While you’re watching tennis bombs are dropping on Gaza.”
The woman, who was throwing anti-war pamphlets from the first row, was quickly stopped but not by the security team. Instead, one spectator stood and started wrestling the protestor, before a second spectator also jumped in to assist in removing the protestor.
After the ball kids collected the paper and the security eventually escorted the protestor, the match was resumed.
When the match resumed, Zverev went on to complete a 7-5 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 (3) win over Norrie to progress into the quarterfinal. Addressing the incident during the match, Zverev said he was surprised by how long it took the security to intervene considering how strict they were in some other procedures.
“When something like this happens, it shouldn’t be another fan dragging the other person out,” Zverev said of the incident. “It should be the security guys that should be there quite quickly. It shouldn’t take them three, four minutes, that long.”
Zverev on pro-Palestine messages appearing at the Australian Open
On Monday, protesters threw pro-Palestine messages in at least two courts. Also, anti-war messages were thrown near the entrance to the Australian Open site.
After beating Norrie, Zverev simply acknowledged that there is a lot of negative stuff happening right now in the world.
“There’s obviously a lot going on in the world and a lot of quite bad things happen. I understand some people are frustrated,” Zverev said of the incident.
“Of course, a tennis match has nothing particularly to do with it. I also understand both sides there.”
Meanwhile, Zverev is set to battle against Carlos Alcaraz for a place in the Australian Open semifinal.