Laver Cup protester delays match after setting arm, court on fire

A protester set fire to the pitch and his arm during a match at Friday’s Laver Cup tennis event, briefly delaying the start of the second set between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman at the O2 Arena.

The activist, who was carrying a lighter and wearing a white T-shirt with a message about private jets, made his way to the black court and sat down next to the net. The person was eventually carried away by guards.

“It came out of nowhere. … I’ve never seen an incident like this on track,” Tsitsipas, the runner-up at the 2021 French Open, said afterwards. “I hope he’s okay.”

Tsitsipas spoke to the chair umpire to make sure it would be safe to continue playing and asked to clear a spot on the field.

“A man entered the court this afternoon and was promptly removed by security,” the Laver Cup said in a statement. “The game has been stopped for a while, he has been arrested and the situation is being handled by the police.”

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Tsitsipas recorded a 6-2, 6-1 win for Team Europe over Team World’s Schwartzman to give his team a 2-0 lead in the competition.

Roger Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, was scheduled to take part in his final competitive game hours later on Friday, alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal.

Federer, 41, has not played an official game since Wimbledon in July 2021 and is ending his playing career after a series of surgeries on his right knee.

There have been other instances of high-profile tennis matches being interrupted in recent years, including during the 2009 Roland Garros final, when a man went up to Federer and tried to put a hat on his head.

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At this year’s French Open, in June, a protester wearing a T-shirt with the message, “We have 1028 days left,” interrupted the men’s semifinal between Casper Ruud and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. by attaching itself to the net with metal. wires and glue and kneeling on the field.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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