• A man runs on to the court AT O2 Arena and setS his arm on fire
Stefanos Tsitsipas shrugged off a dramatic on-court protest by a demonstrator who set his arm ablaze to give Team Europe a 2-0 lead against Team World at the Laver Cup yesterday.
The Greek world number six crushed Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-1 at London’s O2 Arena following a tight opening win for Norway’s Casper Ruud against Jack Sock.
In the evening session, Roger Federer will team up with Rafael Nadal in the doubles for the final match of his glittering career.
The long-time rivals, with 42 Grand Slam titles between them, will face American pair Sock and Frances Tiafoe after Andy Murray kicks off the evening session with a singles match against Australia’s Alex de Minaur.
Tsitsipas clinched the first set 6-2 before, during the changeover, a spectator ran on to the court and set his arm on fire.
A man ran on to the court in London’s O2 Arena and set his arm on fire to protest the use of private jets in Britain, briefly halting the Laver Cup meeting between Tsitsipas and Schwartzman.
Security personnel acted quickly to drag the man off the court before play resumed following a quick check of the surface which was not damaged during the bizarre incident.
British media reported that the protestor was a member of the End UK Private Jets group, which claims “carbon emissions in 2022 are genocide.”
After a brief delay the match resumed, with Tsitsipas looking untroubled.
Tsitsipas, overpowering the Argentine with his brutal forehand, struck 17 winners and committed just six unforced errors to seal victory in 77 minutes.
Earlier, Ruud edged out Sock 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 to put Team Europe 1-0 up after an close-fought opening match.
World number two Ruud initially proved too strong for the American, but Sock got back on level terms and forced a 10-point tie-breaker.
Ruud recovered from trailing 3-0 to triumph, much to the delight of the packed crowd and his watching team-mates, with a fine forehand winner clinching the first point of the Ryder Cup-style team competition. Ruud admitted in his on-court interview that it had been “nerve-wracking at the start”, and acknowledged that his straight sets win over Reilly Opelka in last year’s opening Laver Cup match in Boston had been a real confidence boost for him.
“This match was decided by a couple of points,” he said, “I think we both made mistakes we wouldn’t normally make, and this time the margins were on my side.”
Sock said yesterday: “I keep getting underestimated. Despite what my ranking says, I still feel I’m a pretty good tennis player. I lost to the world No.2 on a 10-7 tiebreak.”
The Laver Cup features two six-man teams playing singles and doubles matches over three days.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini will take Federer’s place over the weekend as an alternate.
Captain Bjorn Borg is aiming to guide Team Europe to their fifth consecutive Laver Cup title against John McEnroe’s Team World side.
A protester lights a fire on the court during the match between Team Europe’s
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Team World’s Diego Schwartzman at the O2 Arena in
London yesterday. (Reuters)