‘They started insulting me’ – Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev hits out at Ukrainian fans at Australian Open
Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev has hit out at Ukrainian fans at the Australian Open for ‘insulting’ him and saying ‘nasty things’.
World No.6 Rublev beat Emil Ruusuvuori in his second-round clash on the Show Court Arena but was allegedly targeted by Ukraine supporters during the match.
Some spectators draped a Ukrainian flag over an advertising hoarding and Rublev could be seen speaking to the umpire about the abuse he said he was receiving.
Moscow-born Rublev has been vocal in his support for Ukraine since Russia invaded the country back in February 2022 – with the war still ongoing.
He famously wrote ‘no war please’ on a camera during last year’s Dubai Tennis Championships, which went viral at the time.
Rublev also suggested ways in which the 2022 Wimbledon Championships could be used to send a political message over the war and came up with the idea of Russians and Ukrainians playing together in mixed doubles, which was rejected.
Speaking after his second-round win over Ruusuvuori, Rublev was quizzed about the Ukrainian flag being draped over the advertising hoarding and the alleged heckling from supporters.
‘It was not about the flag,’ Rublev said. ‘I said straightaway to the referee, it’s not about the flag, they can put any flag they want, I understand completely the situation.
‘It was more that they started to tell me bad words and nasty things. I said to the referee, ‘It’s not about the flag, but please can you tell them at least to not say bad words when I’m on the changeover’.’
Russian and Belarusian flags have been banned at the Australian Open following an earlier courtside incident.
Some fans displayed a Russian flag during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova – with Ukrainian supporters accusing Russian spectators of ‘taunting’ Baindl during the Melbourne Park clash.
Tennis players from Russia and Belarus have been unable to play under their nation’s flags since the invasion of Ukraine began.
Young Ukrainian star Marta Kostyuk, meanwhile, has said she will not shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players at the Australian Open if they do not stand firmly enough against the ongoing invasion.
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