For many tennis fans, the death threat received by Roger Federer must have brought back memories of the 1993 attack on Monica Seles in Hamburg by the deranged Steffi Graf supporter, Gunther Parche.
In an incident that shocked the world, Parche attacked Seles on court during a break in play, stabbing her between the shoulder blades. Although she would go on to make a full recovery, it highlighted how some fans manifest their hatred in extreme ways.
"On October 6, I plan to assassinate Federer for the purpose of tennis extermination," a blogger, calling himself "Blue Cat Polytheistic Religion Founder 07", wrote on the Chinese website baidu.com last month, accompanied by an image showing a decapitated Federer on his knees on a tennis court. According to Tennis World Italia, he has since apologised for the post, claiming he "was arguing with Federer fans and then I wrote something stupid".
Stupid? Demented would be a more accurate description.
An argument with Federer fans cannot be an excuse for making death threats and posting gory photographs. But that is the ugly side of this great rivalry between Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, which has taken the sport to a different level.
Unlike the top three, who have nothing but the highest regard for each other, many of their fans behave in a fashion that is outright disgusting. These fans need to step back and be thankful instead for being witness to one of tennis' best generation do battle on the court.
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