Top 10 interruptions in play.
Occasionally during tennis matches, unforeseen events lead to a break in play.
Murray and the feather. During the second set tie-break of this year’s Australian Open final, and with the score at 2-2, Andy Murray aborted his second serve having been distracted by a small white feather floating down onto the court in front of him. After removing the feather, Murray then double-faulted and lost the breaker 7-3 and the match was levelled at a set-all. That brief loss of concentration felt like the turning point in the match, and afterwards Murray said: “I thought it was a good idea to move it… maybe it wasn’t”.
Tennis Hooligan at Roland Garros. Having been haunted by Rafael Nadal in previous years, the moment had finally come for Roger Federer to claim his maiden French Open title in 2009. Federer was playing against Swede Robin Soderling, but a Spaniard still managed to make his mark on the Swiss that day. A man dressed in red and carrying an FC Barcelona flag managed to make his way onto the court and dance in front of Federer, before wrapping him in the flag and trying to put a hat on his head. Quickly removed, Federer then adjusted his headband and went on to claim his 14th Grand Slam, equalling Pete Sampras’ record.
Fight in New York City. During a third-round match at the 2010 US Open, Novak Djokovic was suddenly distracted by an altercation in the upper tiers of the Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Hey, hey… Woah!” Djokovic said, pointing at the incident. The three people involved were subsequently banned from the tournament.
Jamie Murray’s killer serve. “I hope he didn’t do it on purpose,” Andy Murray said after hearing that his brother Jamie had killed a baby sparrow. Jamie’s practice session was interrupted when one of his serves struck a low-flying sparrow. This was not the first time this had happened in Australia. In 2002, a men’s doubles match was halted when a bird flew in the path of a Michael Llodra forehand – all four players then paid their respects to the deceased bird.
Streaker on Centre Court. The brightest part of the 1996 Wimbledon final arguably came before a point had been played, when the cameras taking the pre-match photographs of Richard Krajicek and Malivai Washington were suddenly redirected towards a female streaker running across the turf of Centre Court. The young lady was identified as 23-year-old Melissa Johnson. It was not the last time a streaker was seen at Wimbledon, with both Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova matches being disrupted in 2002 and 2006.
A mouse in the house. At the 1998 Wimbledon Championships, it wasn’t a human on court that caused a stoppage in play, but a little mouse. The match between Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Mark Philippoussis took a short break when the small rodent found an opening onto the court and made the most of it by scuttling around. Luckily for the mouse, it managed to avoid Philippoussis’s serve, otherwise it would probably have met the same ending as Jamie Murray’s sparrow.
Shooting at the US Open. The umpire had to convince John McEnroe and his opponent to stay on court during a match at the 1977 US Open after a commotion in the stands and suggestions that a spectator had been shot. Afterwards, it was confirmed that a fan had been shot in the thigh. Police suggested that the bullet was a stray from the streets of Queens, which had somehow ended up in the stadium.
Wind and plastic cup send Federer into rage. During the 2009 US Open final, the notoriously windy Arthur Ashe Stadium was witnessing yet another memorable performance from Roger Federer, who looked to be on his way to claiming a sixth straight title. That was until the wind had come into play. The wind did not directly affect the play, but did blow a plastic cup onto court leading to a ‘let’ being called, ceasing a point which Federer looked to be on his way to winning. When being replayed, Federer lost the point and went on to be broken and to lose the second set. He would also lose the match, with Juan Martin del Potro scoring his first title.
The beautiful British summertime. In years gone by, this incident would never have happened. Thanks to the closed roof on Centre Court, we were able to witness Sabine Lisicki “jump out of her skin” having been shocked by a giant clap of thunder that shook the rafters of Centre Court. “Yeah, that was different. It was very loud. It was something different to play on grass, indoors, and with a big thunderstorm out there,” explained Lisicki, following her victory over Marion Bartoli in the quarter-finals of 2011.
Cyril the Squirrel. A match at the 2012 US Open between Julien Benneteau and Olivier Rochus was stopped numerous times as a squirrel, soon to be named Cyril, became a regular on the court. Cyril returned to the court on several occasions, with Benneteau attempting to scare the bushy tailed grey off by rolling tennis balls towards him. Having scaled the fence a few times, Cyril finally left under a barrier, sparking a round of applause from the crowd.