'Absurd' animal invasion wreaks havoc on Melbourne Park tennis

A rogue seagull can be seen invading a court at Melbourne Park on Monday night.
A flock of seagulls was causing chaos at Melbourne Park on Monday night. Pic: Twitter

Overseas tennis stars have been given a taste of Australia's wildlife during chaotic scenes at Melbourne Park on Monday night.

Away from the cameras and bright lights of the main courts hosting the Australian Open, the Phillip Island Trophy WTA event got underway over the weekend on some of the outer courts at Melbourne Park.

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The WTA 250 tournament offered some early round losers at the Australian Open the chance to sharpen their tennis games, with grand slam champions Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu among two of the biggest names competing in the event.

Andreescu - the 2019 US Open champion - got more than she bargained for in her match against Madison Brengle when an animal invasion wreaked havoc on their court.

In scenes more reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's iconic horror film, The Birds, both players had to contend with rogue seagulls that seemed intent on interjecting themselves into the match at any given opportunity.

The start of the match had to be delayed so officials could clean up all the bird poo that they'd left behind on the court but that was the least of the players' worries when the match finally got underway.

A bevy of seagulls had taken up residence overhead during the match and on numerous occasions decided to swoop down onto the court to get a better view.

One kamikaze seagull almost got hit as it flew into the path of an oncoming serve, with Brengle at one point referencing Hitchcock's horror classic about killer birds.

“It’s like a Hitchcock … thing,” she said.

Brengle even shaped up to hit one of the winged pests at one point as tennis fans from around the world watched the match in disbelief.

It wasn't just birds causing chaos though as a horde of beetles also dropped by at one point to add to the absurdity.

“What is that one? It’s like a pill bug … but bigger!” Brengle said at one point.

The Tennis Podcast tweeted: “In addition to the seagull poo, the court is also being invaded by beetles. Because Australia.”

Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg described it as something out of an animal documentary in a social media post that summed up the situation nicely.

“This Brengle-Andreescu match should be airing on Animal Planet. It’s been absurd," he tweeted.

“That match deserves to go viral.”

Despite the many animal invasions, Andreescu was able to progress after a hard-fought win over Brengle.

The 2019 US Open champion, who crashed out in the second round of the Australian Open, triumphed 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-3.

Pictured here, Bianca Andreescu hits a backhand at the 2021 Australian Open.
Bianca Andreescu suffered a shock loss in the second round of the Australian Open. Pic: Getty

Aussie trio all through to final 16

In other results, Aussies Gabriella Da Silva Fick and Kimberly Birrell joined unranked teenager Olivia Gadecki in the final 16 of the event.

A day after Gadecki stunned world No.4 and tournament top seed Sofia Kenin, Da Silva Fick earned her first WTA main draw win with a three-set victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Da Silva Fick's 6-3 2-6 7-6 (8-6) win over the world No.92 was also her first top-100 victory.

The 20-year-old only featured on Monday as a lucky loser after world No.15 Johanna Konta withdrew with an abdominal injury.

Earlier in the day, Birrell fought out a 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory over India's Ankita Raina.

Gadecki will face Rebecca Peterson in the round of 16 after the Swede beat Belgium's Greet Minnen in straight sets.

Da Silva Fick will face a stern test against Marie Bouzkova while Birrell will have her work cut out against world No.19 Petra Martic.

Elsewhere on Monday, fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets, while Qiang Wang beat Perth's Maddison Inglis in straight sets.

with AAP

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