Sunday, June 7, 2009
Man tries to put hat on Federer
PARIS -- Stunned and shaken, Roger Federer stood on center court during the French Open final wondering if the intruder who had just run up to him posed a threat.
Luckily, he didn't, and the Swiss star went on to win the French Open and match Pete Sampras' career record of 14 major titles.
An intruder ran onto the court during the second set of the men's final, waving a Barcelona soccer team flag at Roger Federer.
"All of a sudden I heard the crowd, and I looked over and he jumped over the fence or something," said Federer, who beat Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 Sunday to complete a career Grand Slam with his first championship at Roland Garros. "That gave me a fright, just, like, seeing him so close right away."
The on-court intruder leaped into the area of play early in the second set, getting through a section of photographers sitting in the front row and hopping over the small wall separating them from the red clay.
Federer, however, said he wasn't worried when he first saw the man run toward him.
"The good thing is, like, it happened before so that's why I guess I didn't panic," Federer said. "It happened in Wimbledon before when two guys ran out on the court, and once I think it was in Montreal when I lost to [Andy] Roddick when I was playing for my No. 1 ranking in the third set."
At Wimbledon in 2006, two men came on the court with rackets and balls, and one of them hit a shot, during Federer's quarterfinal win over Mario Ancic.
The worst incident involving an on-court intruder came in 1993 when a man reached over a courtside railing in Hamburg, Germany, and stabbed top-ranked Monica Seles between the shoulder blades. Seles recovered and returned to tennis in 1995, and won the 1996 Australian Open.
On Sunday, the intruder was waving a Barcelona soccer team flag and ran toward Federer and tried to place a red hat on his head.
"Normally they always kind of look at me and go, 'I'm so sorry I have to do this,' because they have some sort of a reason for it," Federer said. "This guy, I don't know, he looked at me and I was not sure what he wanted. It seemed like he wanted to give me something. So I was actually OK, because I saw he wasn't pulling for anything stupid."
Federer pushed the intruder aside, and security guards ran onto the court to subdue the man, but he jumped over the net. A security guard from Soderling's side of the court then ran out and tackled him. He was carried off the court by three security guards.
"It wasn't really a nice thing to see," Soderling said. "I think the security was at least as surprised as we were. But I know it's very bad that things like this can happen."
"I tried not to think about it too much," he added.
Federer had won the first set and was leading 2-1 in the second when the man jumped onto the court. Federer lost that next game to love, but then won the next.
After the man was taken away, a security guard approached Federer to check if he was OK. The Swiss player smiled and nodded. A moment later, Federer turned to look up at his wife in the stands and then adjusted his headband.
"It definitely felt uncomfortable once he came close to me. Looking back, it definitely threw me out of my rhythm a little bit," Federer said. "One game later, I thought that maybe I should have sat down and taken a minute or two to kind of reflect on what just happened. Was that real or what?
"But I don't know. I mean, I wanted to play on and whatever, get over it. But it was a touch scary, yes."
Police later said the man was jailed for questioning and could be charged with illegally entering a sports stadium. Police said the man claimed to be a fan of Federer.