Laver Cup: Protester runs onto court and briefly sets fire to his arm during opening session at The O2 | Tennis News

A protester set fire to his arm during the opening session of this year’s Laver Cup at The O2 in London.

The incident happened during the match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman on the first day of the competition.

Tsitsipas clinched the first set 6-2 and during the changeover, a man ran onto the court and lit a fire, which briefly set his arm ablaze.

The individual was wearing a t-shirt which read: “End UK Private Jets” and was quickly dragged out of the court after the fire had been extinguished.

A man is taken away by security after he sets fire on his hand during protest at a match Team World's Diego Schwartzman against Team Europe's Stefanos Tsitsipas on day one of the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 in London, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
The protester was quickly taken away by security before the match resumed

There was a quick check of the surface to ensure it had not been damaged during the bizarre incident, before the match was able to resume after a brief delay.

It failed to knock world No 6 Tsitsipas off his stride with the second set clinched quickly to beat Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1 to put Team Europe 2-0 up at the end of the afternoon session, but the Greek athlete admitted it left him and everyone inside The O2 shocked.

Team Europe's Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after winning a match against Team World's Diego Schwartzman on day one of the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 in London, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed a straight-sets victory against Diego Schwartzman

“It came out of nowhere. I have no idea what this is all about. I never had an incident like this happen on court. I hope he is all right,” Tsitsipas explained, having spoken to the umpire before his singles clash resumed.

“I wanted to proceed the match without having any minor changes to the court and to make sure it was playable, especially that area. It also got in my way of viewing experience, the way I saw the court later. There was a big mark over there and I just wanted to get it cleared up.”

Swiss great Roger Federer is due to take to the court later in the day for the final match of his career, with the 41-year-old partnering his great rival Rafael Nadal to face the American duo of Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were reunited on court in a practice session ahead of the Laver Cup

Protest to “take shine a off” Federer farewell

Sky Sports’ Jacquie Beltrao, at the O2 during the incident, said: “If you’ve ever been to the O2, the court is very lit and the audience very dark, so the players wouldn’t be able to see him coming.

“He was wearing a t-shirt that read “End UK private jets” and of course all these players arrived at the Laver Cup by private jet including Roger Federer, whose last match is tonight. That’s definitely going to take a shine off the occasion.”

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