CNN
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Andrey Rublev complained to the referee during his Australian Open second-round match on Thursday about fans, who were holding a Ukrainian flag, saying “bad things” to him.

Rublev was playing Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori at the Show Court Arena when two fans sitting near the 25-year-old Russian’s chair waved a Ukrainian flag.

“It wasn’t about the flag,” seeded No. 5 Rublev said after his four-set victory. “I told the referee straight away, it’s not about the flag, they can put any flag they want, I completely understand the situation.

β€œIt’s more that they started saying bad words and bad things to me.

“I said to the ref, ‘It’s not about the flag, but please can you at least tell them not to swear when I’m on the change. “”

Rublev has spoken out against the ongoing war in Ukraine, signing “no war, please” on camera after winning the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championship in February.

He also wrote “Peace, Peace, Peace, All we need” after winning a match at the ATP Finals in November.

In light of the war in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been allowed to play at the Australian Open, but must do so “without country flags or recognition”.

On Tuesday, Tennis Australia announced that fans would no longer be allowed to bring the Russian or Belarusian flag on-site at the Australian Open.

The decision comes after Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia “strongly condemns[ed]” the Russian flag displayed in the stands during the Grand Slam.

The flag was seen during the first round match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova in Melbourne.

An agency photo also shows the Russian flag displayed in the stands during the first-round match between Daniil Medvedev and American Marcos Giron.

Rublev next faces No. 25 seed Dan Evans on Saturday.

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