A number of Greek supporters were asked to leave the grounds of the Australian Open on Wednesday afternoon following Maria Sakkari’s win against Japan’s Nao Hibino.

According to reports, the fans had received several warnings for their behaviour by the police, but refused to comply.

After being asked to leave, they eventually left the area peacefully, but some of them labelled the treatment as ‘racist’.

Asked about the incident by reporters after the game, Sakkari was quick to defend her Greek fan: “They supported me in a very nice way,” said the 24-year-old.

“They respected the opposition and stopped when it was necessary. It’s my favourite type of atmosphere to play in and I love having them by my side. All they said was ‘break, break, break’ but everyone does that. I’m fine with them, I think they’re great!”

Asked about the statements made by Stefanos Tsitsipas a day earlier for fans to be a little more respectful, Sakkari replied: “I didn’t see his game. I heard what he said and I understand it, but we all have different tastes and that’s his own choice.”

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Sakkari also commented on the fact that there were certain ethnic chants heard throughout the game with reference to the dispute with North Macedonia, to which she didn’t seem to have an issue with.

“They (the fans) are very patriotic, so they give a lot of significance to anything happening in Greece. I understand their sentiments, they feel a lot more Greek than even we do, it’s very nice. It’s not something illegal,” she said.

The majority of the Greek supporters that were at Court 8 during Sakkari’s match on Wednesday belong to the Hellas Fan Club, a self-described “ultra-fanatical group”, with their members pointing out that they will be back on Friday through a post on their Facebook page, adding that “we will never become how you want us to be”.

Should the fans cause more trouble, they could potentially face a permanent ban from the competition, with Sakkari not a big fan of the idea.

“Things would be totally different to be here without them,” she said. “I enjoy (their support) a lot, it makes me play even better, I become more passionate and that’s why this is one of my favourite tournaments. I hope it doesn’t happen, so that they can continue to come to the games and support us.”

READ: Tsitsipas through to third round following opponent Kohlschreiber’s withdrawal from Australian Open