Tennis match stopped by pitch invader in panda costume as players looked stumped
A tennis match was stopped by a pitch invader wearing a panda costume who did a lap of the court before then leaving – resulting in both players looking stumped.
The strange incident happened during a qualifying match between Quentin Halys and Gregoire Barrere ahead of the ATP 500-tournament in Rotterdam. The ABN Amro Open event has attracted some of the world's biggest stars including world No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev.
However, security concerns have been raised after the panda costume-wearing pitch invader waltzed around the court unchallenged, briefly pausing the qualifying match – leaving players and the crowd bemused.
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World no.75 Barrere lost the first set 6-7 and was trailing 1-4 in the second when the pitch invader entered from the side of the court. Wearing a panda costume they jumped the advertising boards before performing a comical roll as they ran past the net and then crossing the court on the receiver's side.
Flailing their arms around the pitch invader didn't even provoke a smirk or a reaction from either players or anybody in the crowd. The panda costume-wearing invader then left the court where he entered jumping over the advertising board and exiting the venue – as Barrere watched on in amazement.
Checking if he could carry on, or maybe asking his coaching team if it had really happened, Barrere then served and play continued. World no.70 Quentin Halys had looked in firm control of the match until the strange incident happened.
However, once play continued Barrere came storming back winning 6-7, 7-6, 7-6. The Frenchman then went on to beat Belgian David Goffin in the last-32 despite being 35 places lower in the world rankings. However, he meets world No.7 and third seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last-16 tomorrow.
A video of the incident has gone viral on social media with tennis fans amused and amazed by the bizarre pitch invasion. Professional tennis player Lizette Cabrera commented: "What in the panda is going on here." Fans were also quick to highlight the bemusment of both the players and spectators. @Jali_Heir added: "The silence," with a laughing emoji, while @73kayyy added: "the world literally stopped."
Other tennis fans questioned why security had not stopped the pitch invader during the incident which lasted under one minute. @missShruthi said: "Not one security spotted." Another commenter highlighted the lay back nature of Dutch city Rotterdam, @Tbabz__ added: "Lmao my city. Too chilled. Not a single person stopped him."
It was the second bizarre tennis match Barrere has been involved in this month as he was Alexander Bublik's opponent at the Open Sud de France when the Kazakhstan star destroyed his rackets during a tie-break decider.
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