NEW YORK (AP) — At the U.S. Open, the action went beyond the tennis court.
A brawl between fans in the stands Thursday night briefly stopped a match between Novak Djokovic and Philipp Petzschner.
Witnesses say the fisticuffs started when a female fan told a young man he should stop using the F-word. He challenged her to hit him if she had a problem with his language, and she slapped him in the face. He slapped her back, and another man joined the fray.
Security guards quickly escorted the three out of the stadium.
Third-seeded Djokovic and Petzschner stopped playing and looked up into the stands while New York police handcuffed the fans and led them out. Nobody was hurt. It was the kind of scene more common at a baseball or football game than a tennis match.
U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier said: “It was a hot night in New York. Things happen.”
Djokovic eventually took the match, reaching the third round at the U.S. Open with a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory over 52nd-ranked Petzschner of Germany.
Djokovic joked afterward that he hoped the fight didn’t involve anyone from his native Serbia.
The No. 3-seeded Djokovic has made it at least this far all six times he’s played at Flushing Meadows. He lost in the final in 2007, then the semifinals in 2008 and 2009 – each time to Roger Federer. They could meet in this year’s semifinals.
Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, next plays wild-card entry James Blake of the United States.
Petzschner has lost in the second round in all three of his trips to the U.S. Open.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.