A Russian flag hung on a bush at the Australian Open caused outrage on the first day of the tournament with calls for the fan who put it there to be banned from the tennis for life.
Tennis Australia officials moved quickly to remove the "offending" symbol after a furious complaint from the Ukrainian ambassador.
The flag was displayed on an outside court at Melbourne Park where Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl was taking on Russian player Kamilla Rakhimova.
Tennis Australia controversially allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete in the Open provided they did not mention their country.
But the sight of a fan with a Russian flag upset spectators and sent Ukraine’s ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko into a fury.
“I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the game of the Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl at the Australian Open today,” he said in a publicly released statement.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”
A tennis fan told journalists the spectators who brought the Russian flag to the tennis should be banned for life.
“As an Aussie I am deeply embarrassed by this. What the hell,” one said. Another fan described the flag positioned on a bush as “complete provocation”.
“Tennis Australia wriggled and squirmed when it came to Djokovic yet not one official near this court saw fit to do anything.”
Ukraine’s Baindl beat Rakhimova in three sets and the players shook hands after the match.
A second Ukrainian player, Marta Kostyuk, has said she will refuse to shake with any Russian or Belarusian players who had not publicly condemned the Russian invasion.
Kostyuk, whose family are in Kyiv, told journalists: “I barely say ‘hi’ to them.”
Tennis Australia have not yet made a statement about the flag incident but have said in a statement: “Tennis Australia stands united with the international governing bodies of tennis – the grand slams, the ATP and WTA Tours and the ITF – in its condemnation of Russia’s actions and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”