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Rafa Nadal Tops Mmoh at Australian Open, but the Real Story is the Fan Flipping Him Off

A fan is removed from Rod Laver Arena after yelling and flipping off Rafael Nadal during his Australian Open second-round win over Michael Mmoh at Melbourne Park. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS

By Ricky Dimon

Usually it’s the U.S. Open where fans partake in too many adult beverages and sometimes cross the line.

Perhaps following a 2020 U.S. Open that was played without any fans, the 2021 Australian Open is making up for the lack of rowdiness.

In the second set of Rafael Nadal’s second-round match against Michael Mmoh on Thursday night, a clearly inebriated woman suddenly started yelling at Nadal in between a first and second serve. At one point during the interruption she even gave him the finger. A laughing world No. 2 wanted to play through the incident, but the woman continued to be a disturbance and was eventually helped out of Rod Laver Arena.

Rafael Nadal swept Michael Mmoh charging into the Australian Open third round at Melbourne Park. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS

“I don’t know, no,” Nadal said when asked at his post-match press conference about the bizarre scene. “Yeah, yeah, (it) was to me I think. I don’t know. Maybe she took too much gin or tequila; I don’t know. But honestly, (it) was strange situation, but funny at the same time.

“For me (it) was funny. Honestly, somebody doing the finger to me with, I don’t know the reason–but I was surprised, yes. But at the same time, (I) was thinking, ‘Poor girl.’ Because probably she was drunk or something like this.”

It was an otherwise straightforward nigh session for Nadal. The 2009 Australian Open champion defeated Mmoh 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 47 minutes. He struck 40 winners compared to just 24 unforced errors and did not face a single break point.

The result marked a second consecutive convincing win for Nadal, but he indicated afterward that the back issue he has been dealing with throughout his stay in Melbourne is still not 100 percent.

“Not under control, honestly,” the second seeded admitted. “No, I am keep doing the things that I can. If you see my motion on the serve is different than what I would like, but I am trying to find solutions every day. I just keep fighting [to] find a solution.

Security removes female heckler during Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open win over Michael Mmoh. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS

“Of course the preparation the last 15 days has not been the ideal, but here I am. I won two matches in straight sets. I have another opportunity to be on court in two days, and I have tomorrow to keep doing things and trying to find solutions for my back.

“We are doing everything possible to try to be better and better and still alive. So still alive, still hope to be better and to try to be competitive. Let’s see.”

Nadal will face Cameron Norrie in the third round on Saturday.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.