Australian Open final disrupted by shock mid-match court invasion

A refugee rights protestor attempted to crash the Australian Open final between Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal on Sunday night. (Photo by BRANDON MALONE/AFP via Getty Images)
A refugee rights protestor attempted to crash the Australian Open final between Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal on Sunday night. (Photo by BRANDON MALONE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Australian Open final was briefly disrupted by a protestor who managed to get onto the court during Rafael Nadal's showdown against Daniil Medvedev.

Mid-way through the second set of the final, play was stopped as police and security quickly set upon and removed the court invader.

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The person who jumped onto the court was holding a sign that appeared to read 'abolish refugee detention'.

Rafael Nadal , pictured here being guarded by security as a protester is taken off the court.
Rafael Nadal is guarded by security as a protester is taken off the court. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The interruption came at a crucial moment in the second set, with Nadal fending off a break point while leading 5-3.

He was able to fend off Medvedev get the game back to deuce after security had removed the protestor, but the Russian would not be denied as he broke Nadal's serve to move to 5-4, before going on to win the second set by tiebreak.

Protests have been a feature of the Australian Open this year, starting even before the tournament when world No.1 Novak Djokovic found himself escorted to immigration detention after his visa was cancelled.

Border officials took Djokovic to a Melbourne hotel which has been used to detain legitimate refugees and asylum seekers, some for as many as nine years.

Djokovic's time in immigration detention, combined with his relatively swift release after securing an injunction against the cancellation of his visa, brought the plight of those detained inside the hotel into the spotlight.

The saga eventually ended with Djokovic being deported, after a subsequent appeal against the Immigration Minister's decision to personally cancel his visa was unsuccessful.

Protests a common theme throughout Australian Open

It wasn't just refugee issues that lead to protests at the season opening grand slam.

A group ejected from the Australian Open earlier this week for wearing 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts have attempted to hand out 1000 of the same shirts ahead of the women's final at Melbourne Park.

Several people handed out the shirts at the Olympic Boulevard entrance to the Open, along with yellow ribbons and yellow stickers that said 'missing' in Mandarin, attempting to raise awareness regarding concerns over former doubles world No.1 Peng's wellbeing.

The Melbourne-based group hoped people would wear the white T-shirts in the crowd on Saturday night and their black slogan would be visible on the broadcast in Australia and around the world.

Melbourne based activists hand out 'Where is Peng Shuai?' t-shirts outside Rod Laver Arena before the Australian Open women's final. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Melbourne based activists hand out 'Where is Peng Shuai?' t-shirts outside Rod Laver Arena before the Australian Open women's final. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

"There'll be people wearing the shirts. When the camera pans around, hopefully they'll get on the broadcast," one of the group's organisers, Drew Pavlou, told AAP.

"I hope that millions of people across the world when they're watching the Australian Open final tonight, they see Peng Shuai's name, and they realise that we're still raising awareness for her, she's still missing. She's still not safe.

"We just want to keep on trying to raise awareness for her until we know that she's safe, she's able to speak freely, without the Chinese government minding her, controlling what she's saying."

Peng effectively disappeared from public view for nearly three weeks in November, following a social media post where she accused former China vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.

The WTA subsequently withdrew tournaments from China, citing concerns over Peng's safety.

With AAP

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