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Security increased in 'nervy' Paris after fan invades court for selfie with Federer

The 17-time Grand Slam winner was left unimpressed by the incident.

Federer briefly paused but then realised the severity of the situation.
Federer briefly paused but then realised the severity of the situation.
Image: David Vincent

Updated at 18.22

IT HAPPENED IN 2009, again in 2013 and on Sunday once more security was embarrassingly breached at the French Open in a city still on edge after January’s deadly Islamist attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

Roger Federer, one of the sport’s biggest stars, was targeted by a young fan desperate only for an innocent ‘selfie’ with the 17-time Grand Slam title legend.

But two decades after the on-court stabbing of Monica Seles in Hamburg by a deranged fan, officials are all too sensitive to such breaches, especially those being watched by millions around the world.

On Sunday, the youngster raced from the executive, courtside boxes, catching the burly, suit-and-tied security guards completely unawares before they eventually realised the potential danger and muscled him off the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier.

Federer had just cruised past Alejandro Falla into the second round and was ambling off court when the incident happened.

He appeared shocked to see the spectator, dressed in t-shirt and jeans, heading straight for him.

Source: ASD NEWS 2/YouTube

It was an eerie repetition of the 2009 final when another fan leapt from the stands on the same court to plant a hat on the head of the Swiss star.

Four years later, the men’s final between another of the sport’s A-listers, Rafael Nadal, the nine-time champion, and David Ferrer was suspended as flare-carrying protestors were chased away.

“He (Federer) was pissed off with what happened,” admitted tournament director Gilbert Ysern.

“To some extent it’s not the end of the world, but it’s embarrassing, of course, for Roland Garros.

“It shows that we collectively as an organization made a mistake and we will have to correct that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Tennis is getting used to such heart-stopping incidents.

This year’s Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was held up for five minutes after two people ran onto the court to protest the country’s policy on refugees.

France Tennis French Open The young fan was manhandled off court but security were slow to react Source: David Vincent

In 2006, Federer’s Wimbledon quarter-final was hit when protestors invaded Centre Court, a day after a streaker had also leapt onto the turf when Maria Sharapova was playing.

Wimbledon organisers briefly even pondered the possibility that glass screens may have to be constructed to keep spectators off the area of play.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo slayings, security has been tightened at Roland Garros in the city’s plush 16th arrondissement.

But Federer was left unimpressed by the incident.

“I am not happy about it. It happened yesterday in the practice, too,” he said. “It’s just a kid, but then three more kids came. And today on centre court where you would think this is a place where nobody can come on, just wanders on and nothing happens.”

“Something needs to happen quickly. Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, that that’s where you do your job, that’s where you want to feel safe.

Tennis - 2015 French Open - Day One - Roland Garros Federer vented his anger afterwards at the level of security in Paris Source: Jon Buckle

“And so clearly I’m not happy about it. But nothing happened, so I’m relieved. But clearly it wasn’t a nice situation to be in.”

Federer, the 2009 champion and seeded two this year, goes on to face Spain’s Marcel Granollers for a place in the last 32.

- © AFP 2015

– First published at 06.30

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