Laver Cup rocked by frightening scenes before Roger Federer farewell

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
The man, pictured here setting fire to his arm during a mid-match protest at the Laver Cup.
The man set fire to his arm during a mid-match protest at the Laver Cup. Image: Twitter/AAP

The Laver Cup was rocked by frightening scenes on the opening day on Friday when a climate change protester set himself on fire on the court just hours before Roger Federer's farewell.

The incident occurred during the second match of the team event at the O2 Arena in London where Team Europe's Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman of Team World were doing battle in a singles tie.

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A spectator ran on court at the end of the first - won 6-2 by Tsitsipas - and set fire to the court.

However he appeared to inadvertently light his arm on fire as well, crying out in shock before dousing the flames.

Spectators at the arena also screamed in shock and panic as the dramatic scenes unfolded, with security guards rushing in to apprehend the man.

The incident failed to knock World No.6 Tsitsipas off his stride, with the Greek despatching Schwartzman 6-2 6-1 to put Team Europe 2-0 up at the end of the afternoon session.

However Tsitsipas admitted he was shocked by the dramatic scenes.

A protester, pictured here setting his arm and the court on fire at the Laver Cup.
A protester set his arm and the court on fire at the Laver Cup. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

"It came out of nowhere. I have no idea what this is all about," he admitted afterwards.

"I never had an incident like this happen on court. I hope he is alright."

Stewards, pictured here removing a protester after he set fire to the court at the Laver Cup.
Stewards remove a protester after he set fire to the court at the Laver Cup. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

The protestor had been wearing a t-shirt which read 'End UK Private Jets' before he was taken away from the court.

The incident came just hours before the final match of Federer's storied career, with the Swiss legend teaming up in a doubles clash alongside long-time friend and rival Rafa Nadal against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

Team Europe take early lead at Laver Cup

Casper Ruud, the runner-up at the recent US Open, got Team Europe off the mark earlier in the day but only after a back-and-forth encounter with Sock.

Ruud eventually got the better of the American 6-4 5-7 10-7, having trailed by three points at one stage in the 10-point tie-breaker needed to decide the third set.

The Norwegian received strong support from his teammates on the bench, especially Nadal who was on hand to give the World No.2 plenty of pointers during his one-hour-and-48-minute battle on the stylish black court.

"Obviously I was focused about the match and trying to win it but it is fun, you turn around and have Rafa on one side and Roger on the other trying to help," Ruud said.

"I didn't feel like I needed an unbelievable amount of help but they gave me some good tips.

"I had never played Laver Cup tie-breaker. They said to take it one point at a time. I think it was good advice and feels a bit surreal to have them on both sides."

Australia's Alex de Minaur then got Team World on the board with a 5-7 6-3 10-7 victory over Andy Murray, before Federer and Nadal's clash with Sock and Tiafoe.

with AAP

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