Balkan Blood Feud Boils Over At Australian Open

Hooligans: they aren’t just for soccer anymore! In what’s becoming a regular occurrence at the Australian Open, scores of ethnic Serbs and Croats have chosen a tennis match as the tableau to act out their anger in their centuries-old rivalry. The occasion on Friday was the third round match where Serbian Novak Djokovic beat Bosnian-born American Amer Delic. The SYDNEY HERALD SUN reports that at least 30 people were kicked out of Rod Laver Stadium, and one woman was knocked unconscious by a chair.

Tennis fans brawl at Australian Open

As you can imagine, alcohol was partially to blame. THE TIMES OF LONDON notes that the beer was flowing on the tennis grounds bright and early thanks to one of the tournament sponsors, always a guarantee to fuel bad blood. Let’s see: a bunch of drunken idiots hurling lawn chairs at each other until the cops show up to break it up? Sounds like every frat party I ever went to in college, except with the added bonus of racial strife and undercurrents of genocide.

Video of the melee after the jump:

Clashes between Serbs and Croats are becoming a yearly event at the Australian Open, ironically known as “The Happy Slam.” Why? As REUTERS points out, Australia is a popular destination for migrants from Eastern European countries, with more than 120,000 ethnic Serbs and 100,000 ethnic Croats living in the country. With the soccer federation cracking down on ethnically-focused teams, the two sides’ outlet for their blood feud has turned to tennis.

For his part, Delic condemned the actions of both he and Djokovic’s “fans”after the match. As for his opponent? THE AGE says that Djokovic took the coward’s way out and refused to take a stand against his supporters:

“It’s really uncontrollable from our side,” the defending champion said. “We have our authorities to deal with that, if they’re exaggerating. You have to understand them in some point, because people don’t get many chances to see their professional athletes from their countries.

“This is probably the only opportunity they can see them, and they support them. This is something that makes Australian Open different, I think, from the other grand slams — is that nationalities, groups, are coming to support their players.”

And in other, equally sad Australian Open news, Ana Ivanovic was bounced out in the third round by No. 29 seed Alisa Kleybanova. Oh well: I guess she’ll have more time to work on her tan in the Australian sun.