The Roar
The Roar


'Playing in a nightclub': Frenchman hits out at new Aus Open invention after 'drunk' fans disrupt first-round clash

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14th January, 2024

The Australian Open’s new ‘Courtside Bar’ hasn’t taken long to receive backlash from players, with Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech voicing his displeasure with the new set-up following his five-set first-round loss to Russian Pavel Kotov.

The 2024 tournament has seen the launch of a 400-capacity bar next to Court 6 in the Melbourne Park precinct, with fans able to watch the match from the two-story venue while eating and drinking.

Watch every Australian Open match ad-free, live & on demand with centre court in 4K Ultra-HD on the home of Grand Slam tennis, Stan Sport.

But things got noticeably disruptive during Rinderknech and Kotov’s four-hour, 42-minute thriller, with the Frenchman making a ‘shushing’ gesture to the crowd midway through the final set and complaining about disrespectful treatment after the match.

“Some stupid – I won’t even say the country – guys that were drunk were shouting at me every time I was missing my first serve, and I don’t think that’s really correct,” Rinderknech told Fox Sports.

“I don’t think that was really correct and the ref didn’t say anything about it; maybe once.

“But I don’t think it was really fair, so I told them nicely to stay quiet and not do this kind of thing, because I don’t think that’s respect.”

“The bench of just three or four guys next to the court, drinking alcohol probably for quite a long time, and just shouting at me every time I was missing a first serve, especially the game I got broken as well, the whole fifth set.


“It doesn’t matter about this, I’m used to it, I’m fine. I should have been able to handle it – but I don’t think it was really classy.”

Rinderknech also took issue with the courtside DJ at the bar playing throughout the match, with volume at a significantly higher level than on other courts to further distract the players.

“We’re playing in a nightclub! That’s okay – I thought it was only in the US Open we could play in a nightclub,” the Frenchmn said.

“I don’t even know how long we played… it was just food, drinks, laughing, talking, music, different music. Everything was happening on the court!”

However, Rinderknech wasn’t totally against the new initiative, saying it brought a ‘nice atmosphere’ to the match.


“It’s okay, I mean I really like the court. It was nice atmosphere. It’s cool,” he said.

“I don’t know, maybe some other players would have been pissed about the way everything was going on on the right side.

“But for me it was fine, it was fine – except you had those three or four guys at the end I think was really unfair.”

Rinderknech had fought from two sets to love down to square the ledger with Kotov via two successful tie-breaks, but the Russian held his nerve in the fifth to win 7-5, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-3.

Court 6 is expected to get even rowdier on Day 2 of the tournament, when local favourite James Duckworth faces Luca Van Assche mid-afternoon.