World No.1 Iga Swiatek has questioned why the stands on the main court in Rome have been empty in embarrassing scenes for the tournament and the tennis world. The Italian Open is a Masters 1000 event and is the final tournament leading into the French Open.
While the tournament often attracting the biggest names in tennis, the main stadiums have been largely empty for some of the top ranked players in the world. Many have claimed the rising ticket prices for the main stadiums have forced fans to watch matches on the outside courts where it is more affordable.
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Many of these arenas have been full. The rain delays in the first few days would have also impacted tickets. However, Swiatek was the latest to call out the dwindling numbers and thanked the fans that showed up during her day match for making an atmosphere.
“I really appreciate you guys coming,” she said in her on-court interview. “I know we can do better and fill out the whole stadium. But I am pretty happy you are here and supporting tennis.”
Swiatek isn’t the only one to question the attendance on the main courts in Rome. At the beginning of the tournament, tennis reporter Jose Morgado called out the scenes with a number of stadiums appearing empty.
“This is a terrible look,” he wrote. Incredibly, the outside courts have been packed for matches with ticket prices considerably lower. This is was clear when home favourite Fabio Fognini played Miomir Kecmanovic on Pietrangali court.
Fans were left baffled at the scenes during live broadcast and called out organisers for raising the ticket prices for Italians.
Holger Rune booed as he enters court
The dwindling crowd numbers were not the only issues in Rome. The crowd was also called out after youngster Holger Rune was booed as he entered court for his round of 32 clash.
Rune was up against Italian favourite Fognini, but the crowd took exception to his presence and booed him when he was announced on court. Rune addressed the drama and took a shot at those that tried to put him off during the match.
“You know, it was a couple of guys that tried to make me lose focus behind the court. But, guys, it didn’t work,” he said in his on-court interview. “I stayed in the zone.”
The move surprised viewers with fans often welcoming players with a warm applause when they take to court, regardless of their history.
Elsewhere, Aussie star Alexei Popyrin set-up a match with Rune in the round of 16 in a career-best run in Rome. His defeat of Safiullin comes after a three-set epic against Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime, which saw the Aussie prevail 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
The World No.10 entered the match in Rome against Popyrin as big favourite, but immediately found himself behind. And while the Canadian levelled, he was no match for the Australian in the third set as he pulled off a classy volley to knock out a top seed.
Against Safiullin, Popyrin won the final three games to take the first set and broke serve decisively in the 11th game of the second set. Although both sets were close, Popyrin served six aces and no double faults against Safiullin, ranked World No.103, who had put out Seb Korda, the No.22 seed in the previous round.
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