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Climate activists interrupt Croatia-Spain match, tie themselves to the net during Davis Cup Finals
In an increasingly familiar move, the protesters made it onto the court during a live match—with players standing just yards away—before being apprehended.
Published Nov 23, 2022
WATCH: Despite the interruption, Borna Coric completed his victory over Roberto Bautista Agut to put Croatia ahead 1-0 in the Davis Cup Finals.
Borna Coric’s straight-sets stunner over Roberto Bautista Agut didn’t need any more drama, as the Croatian edged through 6-4, 7-6 (4) to give his country a crucial first point against Spain.
But there was drama and confusion in spades in Malaga on Wednesday, as the Davis Cup Finals quarterfinal tie briefly descended into chaos when a pair of protesters stormed the court during the second set.
The pair rushed to the net and attempted to tie themselves to it before security was able to reach them. Then, the two appeared to lay down to make themselves more difficult to remove—resulting in one female protester being dragged away by the arms.
The two protesters wore shirts that read “Futuro Vegetal,” the name of a Spanish direct action group focused on combating the climate crisis via plant-based eating. The pair were dealt with quickly by five members of the security team, and the match soon resumed with a defeat for the host country.
But the incident also underscores a worrying trend in tennis, as the Davis Cup Finals became the third high-profile tennis event this year to be interrupted by a protester. Even more worryingly, in each incident the activists actually managed to get onto the court during a live match, with players standing just yards away:
- During this year’s French Open, an environmental activist interrupted Casper Ruud and Marin Cilic’s semifinal match for more than 15 minutes after running onto the court and attaching herself to the net using wires and glue.
- Amid Roger Federer’s Laver Cup farewell, a climate activist stunned fans at The O2 when he interrupted Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman’s match by running up to the net and setting the court—and, accidentally, his own arm—on fire.
Thankfully, quick actions by tour and venue security have so far prevented anything worse from taking place. But once again, it raises the question: Does tennis have a security problem?
For a sport that still carries the scars of Monica Seles’ horrific 1993 on-court attack by a rival's fan, mid-match protester invasions have become increasingly commonplace. In one relatively recent close call, an intruder interrupted the 2009 French Open final and actually managed to reach Federer behind the baseline, placing a hat on the Swiss player's head, before being rugby-tackled.
Thankfully, this year's court invaders have all been activists, more concerned with raising awareness for their cause than doing any real damage. But should a spectator with more violent intentions take to the court during a match, would security be able to stop them before reaching a player or worse?
This is one tennis trend we hope to see less of in 2023.