Tennis fans were shocked to see a protester set himself on fire during Friday’s match between Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas and Argentinian clay-court specialist Diego Schwartzman at the Laver Cup tournament in London.
According to The Guardian, the protester is believed to represent Sacrifice for Survival, a climate emergency protest initiative that previously saw its activists set themselves on fire as a means of campaigning for the termination of domestic flights within the United Kingdom.
Protester incident during Tsitsipas game
The incident with the protester occurred during the changeover in the match between Tsitsipas and Schwartzman following the first set on Friday, September 23rd.
The young man, dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt that read “end UK private jets,” ran on the court and sat by the net before pulling out a lighter to set a blaze on the hardcourt surface.
His right arm caught on fire, and the man was seen scrambling to put out the flames while security rushed onto the court to extinguish the fire and remove him.
The game was briefly stopped.
The protester was arrested, and the situation was being handled by the police, the Laver Cup said in an announcement.
A man has set his arm on fire after invading the court at the Laver Cup on Roger Federer's last day as a professional tennis player. pic.twitter.com/g0LcBU8PeJ
— Sam Street (@samstreetwrites) September 23, 2022
Before the match resumed, Tsitsipas spoke with the umpire to ensure the surface was playable after the fire.
“There was a big mark over there, and I wanted it to be cleaned up in order for me to proceed the way I did before,” the Greek champion told reporters after the match.
“It came out of nowhere,” he commented. “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.”
Memorable day at the Laver Cup
Day One of the Laver Cup was definitely one of the most memorable days in the tournament’s history so far, and for more reasons than the protester during the Tsitsipas vs. Schwartzman play.
Tsitsipas “sizzled in downing Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-1 in one hour, 16 minutes, improving to an unblemished 3-0 in Laver Cup singles,” the tournament’s official website describes.
The result also handed Team Europe a 2-0 advantage following the afternoon session on Day One.
— Laver Cup (@LaverCup) September 23, 2022
The opening day of the tournament was also marked by Roger Federer’s final match, as the international tennis legend has retired from action.
— Eurosport (@eurosport) September 23, 2022
Held annually since 2017, the Laver Cup is an international indoor hard court men’s team tennis tournament between Team Europe and Team World, the latter of which is composed of players from all other continents except Europe.
The Laver Cup normally takes place two weeks after the US Open, with the location rotating between different host cities.