'That's new': Australian Open player's odd sledge for rival fans

Rowdy crowds at the Australian Open have again attracted criticism, with Frenchman Benoit Paire taking a shot at vocal Croatian fans after his loss to Marin Cilic.

Paire lost a five-set classic against the former US Open champion, 6-2 6-7 (8-6) 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-3), and found the constant noise from Cilic’s countrymen in the crowd a constant distraction.

After the match, Paire suggested the Croatian fans’ behaviour was more reminiscent of a water-polo game - a sport in which Croatia sits atop the world rankings.

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“They shouldn’t have heard anything with their water polo caps,” Paire told French reporters after his loss.

“Let them go back to their pool.”

Paire had clearly been simmering about the noice throughout the match, at one point taking a moment to mock the crowd for their antics.

The Frenchman cupped both of his hands to his ears, mimicking a water-polo cap to further prove a point to the crowd.

Benoit Paire, pictured gesturing at the Australian Open crowd, was annoyed by a vocal section of Croatian fans.
Benoit Paire was irritated by the vocal Croatian crowd who were voicing their support for Marin Cilic, who eventually defeated Paire in five sets. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

It comes after Stefanos Tsitsipas called for his own fans to show a little bit more respect to his opponents and the game of tennis in general, after his 6-0 6-2 6-3 win over Salvatore Caruso.

Nonetheless appreciative of the support, Tsitsipas said even he found the vocal crowd to be a distraction at times.

In his on-court interview with Jim Courier, Tsitsipas thanked the crowd but said they sometimes ‘cross the line’.

He then issued a warning in his post-match press-conference.

“I would describe it as a football field self-expression,” Tsitsipas told reporters.

“(That) attitude doesn't really belong in tennis. It should stay in football, not in the tennis court.

“I really like they come and support me because that gives me a lot of positives in my game. I don't really know why they want to go the extra mile some of the times.”