Laver Cup protester sets fire to court, arm on fire and delays game


LONDON — A protester set part of the court and his arm on fire during a match at the Laver Cup tennis event on Friday, hours before Roger Federer played for the last time before retiring.

The episode briefly delayed the action at the start of the second set in Team Europe’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 victory over Team World’s Diego Schwartzman at the O2 Arena.

The activist, carrying a lighter and wearing a white T-shirt with a message about private jets, took to the black court and sat down by the net. The person was eventually taken away by security guards.

“He came out of nowhere. … I’ve never had an incident like this on the court,” Tsitsipas, the 2021 Roland-Garros finalist, 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 for a mark left on the court to be cleaned up.

The protester “has been arrested and the situation is being handled by the police,” Laver Cup organizers said in a statement.

20-time Grand Slam champion Federer was due to compete hours later on Friday, teaming up with longtime rival Rafael Nadal in a doubles match.

Federer, 41, hasn’t played an official match since Wimbledon in July 2021 and is ending his playing career after a series of right knee operations.

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

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 semi-final between Casper Ruud and the 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic by tying himself to the net with metal wires and glue and kneeling on the ground.

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